Thursday, August 10, 2006

Queen Anne

Wynnstay: Dec. 1838.—I have been dipping into the ' Political State of England' of the year 1714, at the account of the death of Queen Anne, in which several things have astonished me; but none so much as the statement that, from the suddenness of her seizure, her state during the short time that she survived it, &c. &c., she died without 'being able to receive the holy Viaticum!'

In this publication, which seems evidently the parent of our ' Annual Register,' I am surprised to see how little appearance of regret was shown for a sovereign who, weak and foolish as she was, had a most prosperous and even glorious reign—for a woman to whom all parties, I believe, have given the credit of good intentions.

However, certain it is that the sure thermometer of British public feeling, the Funds, rose upon her first apoplectic seizure, fell the day when there seemed to be a rally and an expectation of prolonged existence, and rose again the following day when she died. A few months before she had written a very harsh letter to the Electress Sophia, which is said to have hastened the death of that princess, who died of apoplexy just three months before Queen Anne.

The orders for the mourning are curious: for six months the order is for the deepest mourning (long cloaks excepted ; query, were the women to wear the close cap of widows ?)—' that no person whatsoever, for the first six months, use any escutcheons of armes or armes painted on their coaches, nor use any varnished or bullion nails to be seen on their coaches or chairs.'

The anniversary of the landing of King William was of course then, as now, kept; but much more is said of that (the l7th Nov.) of the happy inauguration of Queen Elizabeth's glorious memory; houses illuminated, bonfires in the streets, &c.; which, by the bye, three month after the death of Queen Anne, when everybody was in this deepest mourning, must have had a queer effect.

Queen Anne had a larger and more noble household then Queen Victoria. Groom of the Stole and Lady of the Robes, Duchess of Somerset; Lady Privy Purse Mrs. (Lady) Masham. Ten Ladies of the Bed-chamber —three of whom were duchesses, and five countesses.*

Editor’s note
* It appears from Lady Cowper’s Diary that the situation of Lady of the Bedchamber to Caroline, Princess of Wales, was a prize eagerly contested by duchesses.

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