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QUEEN VICTORIA

after which Mr. Greville ventured to take the lead, though he did not venture to change the subject. 'Has your Majesty been riding to-day?' asked Mr. Greville. 'Oh yes, a very long ride,' answered the Queen with animation. 'Has your Majesty got a nice horse?' said Mr; Greville. 'Oh, a very nice horse,' said the Queen. It was over. Her Majesty gave a smile and an inclination of the head, Mr. Greville a profound bow, and the next conversation began with the next gentleman. When all the guests had been disposed of, the Duchess. of Kent sat down to her whist, while everybody else was ranged about the round table. Lord Melbourne sat beside the Queen, and talked pertinaciously1)— very often a propos to the contents of one of the large albums of engravings with which the round table was covered—until it was half-past-eleven and time to go to bed.

Occasionally, there were little diversions: the evening might be spent at the opera or at the play. Next morning the royal critic was careful to note down her impressions. 'It was Shakespeare's tragedy of Hamlet, and we came in at the beginning of it. Mr. Charles Kean (son of old Kean) acted the part of Hamlet, and I must say beautifully. His conception of this very difficult, and I may almost say incomprehensible, character is admirable; his delivery of all the fine long speeches quite beautiful; he is excessively graceful and all his actions and

attitudes are good, though not at all good-looking in f ace 1

came away just as Hamlet was over.' Later on, she went to see Macready in King Lear. The story was new to her; she knew nothing about it, and at first she took very little interest in what was passing on the stage; she preferred to chatter and laugh with the Lord Chamberlain. But, as the play went on, her mood changed; her attention was fixed, and then she laughed no more. Yet she was puzzled; it seemed a strange, a

1. pertinacious: persistent, obstinate.

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