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every countenance which no portrait can adequately convey, and which must be left to description.
The prince had a noble presence : his carriage was erect ; his figure betokened strength and activity, and his demeanour was dignified. He had a staid, earnest, thoughtful look when he was in a grave mood ; but when he smiled (and this is what no portrait can tell of a man) his whole countenance was irradiated with pleasure ; and there was a pleasant sound and a heartiness about his laugh, which will not soon be forgotten by those who were wont to hear it.
He was very handsome as a young man; but, as often happens with thoughtful men, who go through a good deal, his face grew to be a finer face than the earlier portraits of him promised ; and his countenance never assumed a nobler aspect, nor had more real beauty in it, than in the last year or two of his life.
The character is written in the countenance, however difficult it may be to decipher; and in the Prince's face there were none of those facial lines which indicate craft or insincerity, greed or sensuality ; but all was clear, open, pure-minded, and honest. Marks of thought, of care, of studiousness, were there ; but they were accompanied by signs of a soul at peace with itself, and which was troubled chiefly by its love for others, and its solicitude for their welfare.
Perhaps the thing of all others that struck an observer most when he came to see the Prince nearly, was the originality of his mind ; and it was an originality divested from all eccentricity. He would insist on thinking his own thoughts upon every subject that came before him; and, whether he arrived at the same results as other men, or gainsaid them, his conclusions were always adopted upon•laborious reasonings of his own.
The next striking peculiarity about the Prince was his extreme quickness, intellectually speaking. He was one of those men who seem always to have all their powers of thought at hand, and all their knowledge readily producible.
In serious conversation he was perhaps the first man of his day. He was a very sincere person in his way of talking ; so that, when he spoke at all upon any subject, he never played with it: he never took one side of a question because the person he was conversing with had taken the other; and, in fact, earnest discussion was one of his greatest enjoyments. He was very patient in
bearing criticism and contradiction; and, indeed, rather liked to be opposed, so that from opposition he might elicit truth, which was always his first object.
He delighted in wit and humour ; and, in his narration of what was ludicrous, threw just so much of imitation into it as would enable you to bring the scene vividly before you, without at the same time making his imitation in the least degree ungraceful.
There have been few men who have had a greater love of freedom, in its deepest and in its widest sense, than the Prince Consort. Indeed, in this respect, he was even more English than the English themselves.
A strong characteristic of the Prince's mind was its sense of duty. He was sure to go rigidly through anything he had under, taken to do; and he was one of those men into whose minds questions of self-interest never enter, or are absolutely ignored, when the paramount obligation of duty is presented to them. Such men are absolutely of a different order of mind from the commonplace seekers after power and self-glorification.
The Prince, as all know, was a man of many pursuits, and of various accomplishments, with an ardent admiration for the beautiful both in Nature and in Art. Gradually, however, he gave up pursuits that he was fond of, such as the cultivation of music and drawing ; not that he relished these pursuits less than heretofore, but that he felt it was incumbent upon him to attend more and more to business. He was not to employ himself upon what specially delighted him, but to attend to what it was his duty to attend to. And there was not time for both.
Another characteristic of the Prince (which is not always found in those who take a strict view of duty) was his strong aversion to anything like prejudice or intolerance. He loved to keep his own mind clear for the reception of new facts and arguments; and he rather expected that everybody else should do the same. His mind was eminently judicial; and it was never too late to bring him any new view, or fresh fact, which might be made to bear upon the ultimate decision which he would have to give upon the matter. To investigate carefully, weigh patiently, discuss dispassionately, and then, not swiftly, but after much turning over the question in his mind, to come to a decision, was his usual mode of procedure in all matters of much moment.
There was one very rare quality to be noticed in the Prince,-that he had the greatest delight in anybody else saying a fine saying, or doing a great deed. He would rejoice over it, and talk about it, for days; and whether it was a thing nobly said or done by a little child, or by a veteran statesman, it gave him equal pleasure. He delighted in humanity doing well on any occasion or in any manner.
This is surely very uncommon. We meet with people who can say fine sayings, and even do noble actions, but who are not very fond of dwelling upon the great sayings or noble deeds of other persons. But, indeed, throughout his career, the Prince was one of those who threw his life into other people's lives, and lived in them. And never was there an instance of more unselfish and chivalrous devotion than that of his to his Consort Sovereign and to his adopted country. That her reign might be great and glorious ; that his adopted country might excel in art, in science, in literature, and, what was dearer still to him, in social well-being, formed ever his chief hope and aim. And he would have been contented to have been very obscure, if these high aims and objects could in the least degree have thereby been furthered and secured.
This love of his adopted country did not prevent his being exceedingly attached to his birth-place and his native country. He would recur in the most touching manner, and with childlike joy, to all the reminiscences of his happy childhood. But, indeed, it is clear that, throughout his life, he became in a certain measure attached to every place where he dwelt. This is natural, as he always sought to improve the people and the place where he lived ; and so, inevitably, he became attached to it and to them.
A biographer who has some very beautiful character to describe, and who knows the unwillingness that there is in the world to accept, without much qualification, great praise of any human being, will almost be glad to have any small defect to note in his hero. It gives some relief to the picture, and it adds verisimilitude. This defect (if so it can be called) in the Prince, consisted in a certain appearance of shyness, which he never conquered. And, in truth, it may be questioned whether it is a thing that can be conquered, though large converse with the world may enable a man to conceal it. Much might be said to explain and justify this shyness in the Prince ; but there it was, and no doubt it sometimes prevented his high qualities from being at once observed and fully estimated. It was the shyness of a very delicate nature, that is not sure it will please, and is without the confidence and the vanity which often go to form characters that are outwardly more genial.
The effect of this shyness was heightened by the rigid sincerity which marked the Prince's character. There are some men who gain much popularity by always expressing in a hearty manner much more than they feel. They are delighted" to see you ; “ rejoice” to hear that your health is improving; and you, not caring to inquire how much substance there is behind these phrases, and not disinclined to imagine that your health is a matter of importance which people might naturally take interest in, enjoy this hearty but somewhat inflated welcome. But from the Prince there were no phrases of this kind to be had: nothing that was not based upon clear and complete sincerity. Indeed, his refined nature shrank from expressing all it felt, and still less would it condescend to put on any semblance of feeling which was not backed up by complete reality.
The Prince had a horror of flattery. Dr. Johnson somewhere says that flattery shows, at any rate, a desire to please, and may, therefore, be estimated as worth something on that account. But the Prince could not view it in that light. He shuddered at it: he tried to get away from it as soon as he could. It was simply nauseous to him.
He had the same feeling with regard to vice generally. Its presence depressed him, grieved him, horrified him. His tolerance allowed him to make excuses for the vices of individual men, but the evil itself he hated.
The Prince was a deeply religious man, yet was entirely free from the faintest tinge of bigotry or sectarianism. His strong faith in the great truths of religion coexisted with a breadth of tolerance for other men struggling in their various ways to attain those truths. His views of religion did not lead him to separate himself from other men ; and in these high matters he rather sought to find unity in diversity than to magnify small differences. Thus he endeavoured to associate himself with all earnest seekers after religious truth.
Introduction to Collected Speeches of Prince Albert.
Our little squadron was now reduced to two boats. The land to the northward was no longer visible; and whenever I left the margin of the fast ice to avoid its deep sinuosities, I was obliged to trust entirely to the compass. We had at least eight days' allowance of fuel on board ; but our provisions were running very low, and we met few birds, and failed to secure any larger game. We saw several large seals upon the ice, but they were too watchful for us; and on two occasions we came upon the walrus sleeping, -once within actual lance-thrust; but the animal charged in the teeth of his assailants and made good his retreat.
On the 28th I instituted a quiet review of the state of things before us.
Our draft on the stores we had laid in at Providence Halt had been limited for some days to three raw eggs and two breasts of birds a day; but we had a small ration of bread-dust besides; and when we halted, as we did regularly for meals, our fuel allowed us to indulge lavishly in the great panacea of arctic travel, tea. The men's strength was waning under this restricted diet; but a careful reckoning up of our remaining supplies, proved to me now that even this was more than we could afford ourselves, without an undue reliance on the fortunes of the hunt. Our next land was to be Cape Shackleton, one of the most prolific bird colonies of the coast, which we were all looking to, much as sailors nearing home in the boats after disaster and short allowance at sea. But, meting out our stores through the number of days that must elapse before we could expect to share its hospitable welcome, I found that five ounces of bread-dust, four of tallow, and three of bird meat, must from this time form our daily ration.
So far we had generally coasted the fast ice : it had given us an occasional resting-place and refuge, and we were able sometimes to reinforce our stores of provisions by our guns. But it made our progress tediously slow, and our stock of small shot was so nearly exhausted that I was convinced our safety depended on an increase of speed. I determined to try the more open sea. For the first two days the experiment was a failure. We were surrounded by heavy fogs ; a south-west wind brought the outside pack upon us and