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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Politics and History

The Death of Queen Victoria

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -



The British Medical Journal and the Lancet have received information which enables them to publish the following authoritative account of the last illness of the Queen: -

OSBORNE, January 23, 1901.

The Queen’s health for the past twelve months had been failing, with symptoms mainly of a dyspeptic kind, accompanied by impaired general nutrition, periods of insomnia, and later by occasional slight and transitory attacks of aphasia, the latter suggesting that the cerebral vessels had become damaged, although her Majesty’s general arterial system showed remarkably few signs of age.

The constant brain work through a long life of Royal responsibilities, and the Imperial events, domestic sorrows, and anxieties which have crowded into later years, may, no doubt, be held in some measure to account for this discrepancy between the cerebral and general vessel nutrition. The thoracic and abdominal organs showed no sign of disease.

The dyspepsia which tended to lower her Majesty’s original robust constitution was especially marked during her last visit to Balmoral. It was there that the Queen first manifested distinct symptoms of brain fatigue and lost notably in weight.

These symptoms continued at Windsor, where in November and December, 1900, slight aphasic symptoms were first observed, always of an ephemeral kind, and unattended by any motor paralysis. Although it was judged best to continue the negotiations for her Majesty’s proposed visit to the Continent in the spring, it was distinctly recognised by her physicians and by those in closest personal attendance upon her that these arrangements were purely provisional, it being particularly desired not to discourage her Majesty in regard to her own health by suggesting doubts as to the feasibility of the change abroad to which she had been looking forward.

The Queen suffered unusual fatigue from the journey to Osborne on December 18, showing symptoms of nervous agitation and restlessness which lasted for two days. Her Majesty afterwards improved for a time, both in appetite and nerve tone, in response to more complete quietude than she had hitherto consented to observe.

A few days before the final illness transient but recurring symptoms of apathy and somnolence, with aphasic indications and increasing feebleness, gave great uneasiness to her physician.

On Wednesday, January 16th, the Queen showed symptoms of increasing cerebral exhaustion. By an effort of will, however, her Majesty would for a time, as it were, command her brain to work, and the visitor of a few minutes would fail to observe the signs of cerebral exhaustion.

On Thursday the mental confusion was more marked with considerable drowsiness, and a slight flattening was observed on the right side of the face. From this time the aphasia and facial paresis, although incomplete, were permanent.

On Friday the Queen was a little brighter, but on Saturday evening there was a relapse of the graver symptoms, which, with remissions, continued until the end.

It is important to note that, notwithstanding the great bodily weakness and cerebral exhaustion, the heart’s action was steadily maintained to the last, the pulse at times evincing increased tension, but being always regular and of normal frequency.

The temperature was normal throughout.

In the last few hours of life paresis of the pulmonary nerves set in, the heart beating steadily to the end.

Beyond the slight right facial flattening there was never any motor paralysis, and, except for the occasional lapses mentioned, the mind cannot be said to have been clouded. Within a few minutes of death the Queen recognised the several members of her family.


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