"She is invaluable," he answered, "to every prime minister and the Cabinet. The prime minister, after the close of the debate in the House of Commons every night, writes the queen a full report of what has occurred at that session. This has been going on for more than half a century. The queen reads these accounts carefully and has a most retentive memory. If these communications of the prime ministers were ever available to the public, they would present a remarkable contrast of the minds and the methods of different prime ministers and especially those two extreme opposites, Gladstone and Disraeli. The queen did not like Gladstone, because she said he always preached, but she had an intense admiration for Disraeli, who threw into his nightly memoranda all his skill not only as a statesman, but a novelist. The queen also has been consulted during all these years on every crisis, domestic or foreign, and every matter of Cabinet importance. The result is that she is an encycIopaedia. Very often there will be a dispute with some of the great powers or lesser ones, which is rapidly growing to serious proportions. We can find no report of its beginning. The queen, however, will remember just when the difficulty began, and why it was pushed aside and not settled, and who were the principal actors in the negotiations. With that data we often arrive at a satisfactory settlement."
I remember one garden-party at Buckingham Palace. The day was perfect and the attendance phenomenally large and distinguished. While there were places on the grounds where a luncheon was served, the guests neglected these places and gathered about a large tent where the royalties had their refreshments. It was an intense curiosity, not so much to see their sovereign eat and drink, as to improve the opportunity to reverently gaze upon her at close range. The queen called various people whom she knew from this circle of onlookers for a familiar talk.
When the luncheon was served the attendant produced an immense napkin, which she spread over herself, almost from her neck to the bottom of her dress. A charming English lady, who stood beside me, said: "I know you are laughing at the economy of our Queen."
"On the contrary," I said, "I am admiring an example of carefulness and thrift which, if it could be universally known, would be of as great benefit in the United States as in Great Britain."
"Well," she continued, "I do wish that the dear old lady was not quite so careful."
At a period when the lives of the continental rulers were in great peril from revolutionists and assassins, the queen on both her fiftieth anniversary and her jubilee rode in an open carriage through many miles of London streets, with millions of spectators on either side pressing closely upon the procession, and there was never a thought that she was in the slightest danger. She was fearless herself, but she had on the triple armor of the overmastering love and veneration of the whole people. Americans remembered that in the crisis of our Civil War it was the influence of the queen, more than any other, which prevented Great Britain recognizing the Southern Confederacy.
Among the incidents of her jubilee was the greatest naval demonstration ever known. The fleets of Great Britain were summoned from all parts of the globe and anchored in a long and imposing line in the English Channel. Mr. Ismay, at that time the head of the White Star Line, took the Teutonic, which had just been built and was not yet in regular commission, as his private yacht. He had on board a notable company, representing the best, both of men and women, of English life. He was the most generous of hosts, and every care taken for the individual comfort of his guests. In the intimacy for several days of such an excursion we all became very well acquainted. There were speeches at the dinners and dances afterwards on the deck for the younger people. The war-ships were illuminated at night by electric lights, and the launch of the Teutonic took us down one lane and up another through the long lines of these formidable defenders of Great Britain.
One day there was great excitement when a war-ship steamed into our midst and it was announced that it was the German emperor's. Even as early as that he excited in the English mind both curiosity and apprehension. One of the frequent questions put to me, both then and for years afterwards at English dinners, was: "What do you think of the German emperor?"