To The Editor Of "The Girl's Own Paper"
MY DEAR SIR, - The portrait of Her Majesty, which you have allowed me to see, and which is the frontispiece of the present part, is a charming one (the very best, but one, I have seen - and that was a foreign one and unique for private use) and the expression is like our gracious lady; for the expression in the public photographs is terribly unlike - I never saw but one that in the least recalled her expression to me. It was a singular one - an atmosphere of such dignity and repose, purity and tenderness, as haunted me for years. And I have never seen any human being like it, except once, only once, and it may be interesting to write of that one incident.
In a long city drive, my attention was arrested. Suddenly, while scanning - rather unsatisfactorily - opposite faces, an old face leaped out of the darkness with a light from Heaven on it. Looking closer and thoroughly aroused, I saw she was bitterly poor, both in person and dress - poor, oh, it hurt one to see how poor! - but there was the expression I had longed for years to see. The dignity and perfect repose, the peace and happiness, and I thanked God, and in sadder hours comforted myself in that remembrance.
Then I remembered that I had seen that expression once before, and where? It was on a summer's day, when by chance I saw the Queen, our Queen, alone. By a strange chance, having a private pass to see some antiquities, I was startled by seeing the royal flag up, and my attendant told me Her Majesty was coming in private to see some pictures. While I waited, the little brougham drove in, and there was a slight pause, while the Queen stood near me, till the doors opened and the suite of gentlemen came to receive her. And then I saw how rightly I had always hated the photographs. Here was the expression I had seen once before - the quiet radiance of that purity and dignity - a stateliness and peace nothing on earth could give or take away - a presence which inspired the thought that it was worth while enduring the strain and suffering which waits on a throne to gain such a spirit.
It seemed to me strange that in a Christian country and time, when the blessed mother of our Lord would seem to be the focus of all example, and the natural ideal of all women, the expression I have recalled of purity and quiet dignity and perfect peace should be so rare. It seemed curious also that the most perfect and beautiful realisation of that expression should be shown to me in the antipodes of English womanhood - in the poorest of our fellow-countrymen and in our dear and gracious sovereign-lady, whom God bless and preserve here and hereafter!