THE QUEEN AND THE NEGRESS.
Evening Post, Volume XLIV, Issue 68, 17 September 1892, Page 1
THE QUEEN AND THE NEGRESS.
A paragraph has gone the round of the papers telling of the arrival in England of an old lady named Mrs. Martha Ricks, who had. come from Liberia in the hope of seeing the Queen. She had been a slave, and to her mind the Queen of England was the liberator of the slaves and the Mother of her people. For many yeaTS — for fifty years — the idea of coming to England, and so to see Queen Victoria, had been a wish toiled for and closely held. It was not an idea that seemed very likely of realisation, for the difficulties were many. Mrs. Eicks, Aunt Martha as they called her, is old, and the little negro republic on the West Coast of Africa is a long way off. " But my time was nearly over," she says, "for I am seventysix, and though they told me that I could never come, I must see the Queen now, or never shall I see her. And so I should have come if it had been but myself alone." She did indeed set out from Liberia by herself, with no guide, and no credential of her mission, except a satin quilt embroidered with a pattern of the coffee plant, which she hoped the Queen might take from her. But although Mrs. Bicks did indeed set out on her pilgrimage alone, she did not make the journey by herself, for she was accompanied by Mrs. Roberts, the wife of an ex- President of Liberia, and on her arrival in England Dr. Blyden, the Liberian Minister, interested himself in the furtherance of her desire. He wrote to Sir Henry Ponsonby, telling him of the arrival in England of Mrs. Blyden, and asking that she should be allowed to present Mrs. Martha Eicks, whose little story he detailed. Sir Henry Ponsonby replied, suggesting an unofficial visit, since the necessity of applying for an official visit through the Foreign Office would take time, and a telegram asked Mrs. Blyden to bring Mrs. Ricks with her. On the arrival of the party from Liberia at Windsor they were taken to the Castle in three of the Queen's car- ! riages. Mrs. Blyden, her daughter, her little grand -daughter, and Mrs. Bicks, were received at the door of the Palace by the Master of the Household, who' escorted them to the Uoyal presence. The Queen received her guests surrounded by her own children and grandchildren, and Prince and Princess of Wales, Princess Louise, Princess Beatrice, the Princesses Victoria and Maud. Each of the guests was presented to the Queen, who shook hands with them, and said some gracious words to each. To the old lady who |had coire so far to see her, the Queen said that she felt " greatly honoured by the trouble you have taken to come to visit me "; and to the youngest of the Liberians she spoke with an affectionate and characteristic kindness. For Mrß. Hicks this had been the Ejreat, the only day in her life. " I jannot tell what she said to me," she says, speaking of her visit; " but the Queen spoke very soft, and [ think she must have been saying blessings to me. I shall now, after i time, go back to my country, now ;hat I have seen the Queen, and I shall always remember her. I came ;o England thinking, perhapß, I night see her; plenty of friends lave I found here, and have seen ler who is our mother. Them I mall remember in the days which go ay before the time shall be for sleep." Mrs Hicks was entertained at lun;heon by the Lord Mayor ana litiay Mayoress.