"The grand duchess Maria was extremely lively, of quick perceptions, condescending, winning all by her goodness of heart, full of life and energy, and free from all petty forms and prejudices. Her presence never checked the most easy or unreserved conversation; she was courteous to those whom she liked, and loving to her friends; her father's dignity was reflected in her regular feaures, while the heart and freshness and energy of her mother invested her whole being with a singular charm."
"The majestic mien of the grand duchess Olga evinced more calm repose; hers was a finished beauty, more remarkable for stateliness, never in intercourse with other for a moment forgetting that she was of regal birth, and concealing her real goodness of heart by a certain degree of reserve. Her perceptive faculties were not so quick as those of her elder sister, but her studies more profound; her disposition led her thoroughly to investigate every subject and every question, and to persevere with industry and patience in all that she undertook."
"The two eldest daughters most resembled their father, but the youngest, Alexandra, bore a greater likeness to their mother, and indeed to Queen Louise also. Till the age of 13, she gave no promise of equalling her sisters in beauty or talent; she showed very little inclination for serious matters, and cared more for childish games; but suddenly a change took place that astonished her mother, and a few months seemed to have done the work of years. This change occured in Alexandra in her 13th year; her charming figure was developed, her pretty features refined, an eager interest in her studies ensued, and unexpected talents were displayed. From this time, she showed a love for music, and for singing in particular; and occuppied herself much about nature."
Alexandra Feodorovna, Empress of Russia. Orig. in German by August Theodor von Grimm, translated in English by Lady Grace Wallace.