YOUR DEAR LETTER: Private Correspondence of Queen Victoria and the Crown Princess of Prussia 1865-1871 by Roger -- Ed. Fulford

YOUR DEAR LETTER: Private Correspondence of Queen Victoria and the Crown Princess of Prussia 1865-1871

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By a happy chance Fulford's third volume of correspondence between Queen Victoria and her eldest daughter the Crown Princess of Prussia will appear shortly after Daphne Bennett's fiercely partisan biography of the Princess (Vicky, p. 971). If one accepts Miss Bennett's view -- and she is convincing -- that Princess Victoria was a Bismarckian victim, the Princess' references to Prussia's ominous course carry added weight. The years covered are 1865-1871, a period of two major Prussian wars, and in England the emergence of Gladstone and Disraeli, Irish troubles, and Reform ferment. Both women discuss political matters with an appreciation of political responsibility but also a remarkable freedom to air prides and prejudices (""Bismarck goes on unceasingly, untiringly working at getting us into war,"" wrote the Princess). But the bulk of the letters are concerned with domestic inquiry and reportage and the Princess' early letters particularly are spirited and amusing: From Berlin, 1865 -- ""I plunged yesterday all at once into the freezing depth of the family circle here. . . ."" The Queen often speaks of her loneliness and isolation and her irritation with family feuds. Her streaks of vanity are endearing. She is hurt that no first-born was named for her; she is quite cross at her daughter's notable lack of enthusiasm for the ""Highland Diary""; and she takes a dim grandmotherly view of the raising of her grandchildren (""Dear little Henry is very well. . . but we don't spoil him""). The letters are dotted with ""dear little's' and ""poor little's' and there are the celebrated, often parodied ascents into throbbing moral sentiments, but given the obvious humanity and common sense of these two unusual women, this simply seems to be a familiar refuge from the imperatives of crumbling royal powers. Again Fulford's editing, as in Dearest Child (1964) and Dearest Mama (1968), is exemplary.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Scribners