Little Bits of History

Poetry Was Very Important

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 2, 2014
Depiction of the attempt on Queen Victoria's life

Depiction of the attempt on Queen Victoria’s life

March 2, 1882: Queen Victoria survives the eighth assassination attempt or assault on her royal personage. Roderick McLean attempted to shoot the Queen with a pistol. He had mailed her a poem and she made only a curt reply. With his feelings so wounded, there was nothing left to do but kill her. His attempt failed and he was tried for high treason. On April 20, 1882 he was found “not guilty, but insane” after a five minute deliberation by the jury. He lived until 1921 as a resident of Broadmoor Asylum. The verdict did not please the Queen and she asked that English law be changed so that any further cases like this would result in a verdict of “guilty, but insane” instead.

William Topaz McGonagall wrote a poem commemorating McLean’s attempt on the Queen’s life. The Scottish poet was also a weaver and actor. He won his greatest fame for writing terrible, awful, nasty, horrific poetry. He never seemed to grasp the concept of how bad his poetry was and managed to have about 200 of his poems survive. He was known as Britain’s worst poet. He would be invited to give recitations and these events were memorialized in the news of the day. The audience seemed to enjoy his performance but not because of the quality of his poems, but rather as a comic music hall character. His inability to use metaphor or to scan properly seemed to result in merriment for the audience. He is one of the most unintentionally amusing dramatic poets and some of his work remains available today.

Queen Victoria was born in 1819 and began her reign in 1837. She was not just Queen of Britain, but also Empress of India. Her father was the fourth son of King George III, Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Stratheran. Until 1817, Princess Charlotte of Wales was the only legitimate grandchild of George III and her death in 1817 led to a succession crisis. This pushed the surviving unmarried children of George III to marry and produce offspring. Prince Edward married a widowed princess from Germany who already had two children from her first husband. Victoria was their only child. Edward died in 1820 and Victoria was raised in a secluded environment, protected by her mother. She was fifth in line for the throne at the time of her birth.

Through a series of deaths, first her father and grandfather, then her cousins, and finally her uncles, Victoria became heiress presumptive in 1830 to her next surviving uncle, William IV. The Duchess of Kent would be regent should King William die before Victoria’s eighteenth birthday and she was not trusted by the King. He made a vow to live until Victoria was eighteen. He lived until 1837 and Victoria had just turned eighteen less than a month before. Victoria fell madly in love Prince Albert and they were wed on February 10, 1840. They had nine children before Albert died in 1861. The Queen never recovered from the loss. She died in 1901 at the age of 81 having reigned for 63 years – longer than any other British monarch and longer than any other woman in the world.

The important thing is not what they think of me, but what I think of them.

We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not exist.

I feel sure that no girl would go to the altar if she knew all.

Great events make me quiet and calm; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves. – all from Queen Victoria

Also on this day: The Beatles – In 1963, The Beatles released their first LP.
We Got Your Number – In 1925, the Joint Board on Interstate Highways was formed.
Barings Bank Collapse – In 1995, Nick Leeson was arrested for fraud in connection with the bank’s collapse.
Women Only – In 1903, the Martha Washington Hotel opened.

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One Response

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  1. hairballexpress said, on March 2, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I never knew those things about Queen Victoria! She was remarkable! (great post)! *(purrs)*


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