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Victoria, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Empress of India 1819-1901

This article was written by Sidney Lee and was published in 1901

See this site for an extensive collection of photgraphs of Queen Victoria and her times.


Deaths in the royal circle, 1872-3.

Queen VictoriaFrom the flood of distasteful criticism in 1872 the queen escaped for a few weeks in the spring (23 March to 8 April) by crossing to Germany in order to visit at Baden-Baden her stepsister, whose health was failing. After her return home the German empress, with whose dislike of war the queen was in thorough sympathy, was a welcome guest (2 May); and in the same month she sought unusual recreation by attending a concert which Gounod conducted at the newly opened Albert Hall. But death was again busy in her circle and revived her grief. She had derived immeasurable comfort from conversation with Dr. Norman Macleod. ‘How I love to talk to him,’ she said, ‘to ask his advice, to speak to him of my sorrows, my anxieties!’ but on 16 June he passed away. Her first mistress of the robes and lifelong friend, the Duchess of Sutherland, had died in 1868, and she now visited the duchess's son and daughter-in-law at Dunrobin Castle from 6 to 12 September 1872, so that she might be present at the laying of the first stone of a memorial to her late companion. In the same month her stepsister, the Princess Féodore, the last surviving friend of her youth, died at Baden-Baden (23 September), while the death on the following 9 January of Napoleon III, whose amiability to her and her family was never conquered by disaster, imposed on her the mournful task of consoling his widow. She gave the sarcophagus which enclosed his remains in St. Mary's Church, Chislehurst.

Disraeli declines office.

The year that opened thus sadly witnessed several incidents that stirred in the queen more pleasurable sensations. In March Gladstone's Irish university bill was rejected by the House of Commons, and he at once resigned (11 March). The queen accepted his resignation, and invited Disraeli to take his place, but Disraeli declined in view of the normal balance of parties in the existing House of Commons. Disraeli was vainly persuaded to follow another course. Gladstone pointed out to the queen that the refusal of Disraeli, who had brought about his defeat, to assume office amounted to an unconstitutional shirking of his responsibilities. Disraeli was awaiting with confidence an appeal to the constituencies, which Gladstone was not desirous of inviting at once, although he could not now long delay it. In face of Disraeli's obduracy he was, at the queen's request, compelled, however reluctantly, to return for a season at least to the treasury bench (20 March). His government was greatly shaken in reputation, but they succeeded in holding on till the beginning of next year.

First visit of the Shah of Persia.

When the ministerial crisis ended, the queen paid for the first time an official visit to the east end of London in order to open the new Victoria Park (2 April). The summer saw her occupied in extending hospitality to a political guest, the shah of Persia, who, like the sultan of Turkey, was the first wearer of his crown to visit England. The queen's regal position in India rendered it fitting for her to welcome oriental potentates at her court, and the rivalry in progress in Asia between Russia and England gave especial value to the friendship of Persia. The shah stayed at Buckingham Palace from 19 June to 4 July, and an imposing reception was accorded him. The prince of Wales for the most part did assiduous duty as host in behalf of his mother, but she thrice entertained the shah at Windsor, and he wrote with enthusiasm of the cordiality of her demeanour. At their first meeting, on 20 June, she invested him with the order of the garter; at the second, on 24 June, he accompanied her to a review in Windsor Park; and at the third, on 2 July, he exchanged photographs with her, and he visited the prince consort's mausoleum at Frogmore.

Relations with Russia. — Marriage of the Duke of Edinburgh.

Meanwhile the governments of both Russia and England were endeavouring to diminish the friction and suspicion that habitually impeded friendly negotiations between them. At the opening of the year Count Schouvaloff was sent by the Tsar Alexander II on a secret mission to the queen. He assured her that the Russians had no intention of making further advances in Central Asia. Events proved that assurance to be equivocal; but there was another object of Schouvaloff's embassy, which was of more immediate interest to the queen, and accounted for the extreme cordiality that she extended to him. A matrimonial union between the English and Russian royal houses was suggested. The families were already slightly connected. The sister of the princess of Wales had married the tsarevitch (afterwards Tsar Alexander III). The proposal was regarded by the queen as of great political promise, and at the date of the shah's visit the tsarevitch and his wife were staying at Marlborough House in order to facilitate the project. In July the queen assented to the marriage of Prince Alfred, her second son, with Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, the Tsar Alexander II's only daughter, and the sister-in-law of the tsarevna, the princess of Wales's sister. The queen was elated by the formation of this new tie with the family of England's present rival in Asia, and her old antagonist on the field of the Crimea. Subsequently she chose her friend Dean Stanley to perform at St. Petersburg the wedding ceremony after the Anglican rite (23 January 1874), and she struggled hard to read in the dean's own illegible handwriting the full and vivid accounts he sent her of his experiences. In the following May the coping-stone seemed to be placed on the edifice of an Anglo-Russian peace by her entertainment at Windsor of the Tsar Alexander II, her new daughter-in-law's father. But the march of events did not allow the marriage appreciably to affect the political issues at stake between Russia and England, and within three years they were again on the verge of war.

Disraeli in power, 1874. — His relations with the queen.

Meanwhile, in January 1874, the queen permitted Gladstone to dissolve parliament. The result was a triumphant victory for the conservatives. To the queen's relief Gladstone's term of office was ended and she did not conceal the gratification with which she recalled Disraeli to power. Her new minister's position was exceptionally strong. He enjoyed the advantage, which no conservative minister since Peel took office in 1841 had enjoyed, of commanding large majorities in both houses of parliament. Despite a few grumblers, he exerted supreme authority over his party, and the queen was prepared to extend to him the fullest confidence. Disraeli's political views strongly commended themselves to her. His elastic conservatism did not run counter to her whiggish sentiment. His theory of the constitution gave to the crown a semblance of strength and dignity with which her recent ministers had been loth to credit it. Moreover his opinion of the crown's relations to foreign affairs precisely coincided with the belief which her husband had taught her, that it was the duty of a sovereign of England to seek to influence the fortunes of Europe.

In his social intercourse, too, Disraeli had the advantage of a personal fascination which grew with closer acquaintance, and developed in the queen a genuine affection for him. He conciliated her idiosyncrasies. He affected interest in the topics which he knew to interest her. He showered upon her all his arts and graces of conversation. He did what no other minister in the reign succeeded in doing in private talk with her — he amused her. His social charm lightened the routine of state business. He briefly informed her of the progress of affairs, but did not overwhelm her with details. Nevertheless, he well understood the practical working of the constitution, and, while magnifying the queen's potential force of sovereignty, he did not prejudice the supreme responsibilities of his own office. His general line of policy being congenial to her, argument or explanation was rarely needful; but in developing his policy he was not moved by her suggestions or criticism in a greater degree than his predecessors. Even in the matter of important appointments he did not suffer her influence to go beyond previous limits. But by his exceptional tact and astuteness he reconciled her to almost every decision he took, whether or no it agreed with her inclination. When he failed to comply with her wishes he expressed regret with a felicity which never left a wound. In immaterial matters — the grant of a civil list pension or the bestowal of a subordinate post or title — he not merely acceded to the queen's requests, but saw that effect was given to them with promptness. Comparing his attitude to the queen with Gladstone's, contrasting the harmony of his relations with her and the tension that characterised his rival's, he was in the habit of saying, ‘Gladstone treats the queen like a public department; I treat her like a woman.’

Continued irritation with Gladstone.

Disraeli's government began its work quietly. Its main business during its first session was ecclesiastical legislation, with which the queen was in full sympathy. Both the churches of Scotland and England were affected. The public worship regulation bill, which was introduced by Archbishop Tait, was an endeavour to check in England the growth of ritualism, which the queen abhorred, and the Scottish church patronage bill substituted congregational election for lay patronage in the appointment of ministers in the established church of Scotland, whose prosperity the queen made a personal concern. Resistance by the Scottish church leaders to this reform at an earlier date had led to the disruption of the established church of Scotland, and Scottish dissenters, especially those who had left the church, raised stout opposition to a concession which they regarded as too belated to be equitable. To the queen's disgust Gladstone vehemently opposed the measure. His speech against the bill excited her warm displeasure. She denounced it as mere obstruction. ‘He might so easily have stopped away,’ she remarked to her friend, Principal Tulloch; but the bill was carried in spite of Gladstone's protest.

Fear of another Franco-German war.

It was the queen's full intention to have opened parliament in person in February 1875, by way of indicating her sympathy with the new ministers; but the serious illness of Prince Leopold from typhoid fever kept her away. On his recovery, in conformity with the views that she and her prime minister held of the obligations of intervention in European politics that lay upon an English monarch, she immersed herself in delicate negotiations with foreign sovereigns. Rumour spread abroad that the Franco-German war was to be at once renewed. Republican France had been pushing forward new armaments, and it was averred that she was bent on avenging the humiliations of 1870-1. The queen's relatives at Berlin and Darmstadt informed her in the spring of 1875 that Bismarck was resolved to avoid a possible surprise on the part of France by suddenly beginning the attack. Her recent friend, Tsar Alexander II, was travelling in Germany, and she wrote appealing to him to use his influence with the German emperor (his nephew) to stay violence. On 20 June 1875 she addressed herself directly to the German emperor. She insisted that her fears were not exaggerated, and declaimed against the iniquity of a new assault on France. Bismarck wrote to his master expressing cynical resentment at the queen's interference, and denied the truth of her information. By Bismarck's advice, the emperor protested to her against the imputation to him of the wickedness of which she accused his policy. That there was a likelihood of an outbreak of hostilities between France and Germany in the early months of 1875 is undoubted, but an accommodation was in progress before the queen intervened, and the scare soon passed away. Although Bismarck affected to scorn her appeals, they clearly helped to incline the political scales of central Europe in the direction of peace.

Empress of India, 1876.

It was agreeable to her to turn from European complications to the plans whereby Disraeli proposed to enhance the prestige of her crown, and to strengthen the chain that, since the legislation of 1858, personally linked her with the great empire of India. Her pride in her relations with India and her interest in the welfare of its inhabitants were always growing. She therefore readily agreed that the prince of Wales should, as her representative, make a state tour through the whole territory, and should visit the native princes. She took an affectionate leave of him at Balmoral on 17 September 1875. The expedition was completely successful, and the prince did not return to England till the following May, when the queen welcomed him in London (11 May 1876). Disraeli's Indian policy also included the bestowal on her of a title which would declare her Indian sovereignty. The royal titles bill, which conferred on her the designation of empress of India, was the chief business of the session of 1876, and she fittingly opened it in person amid much popular enthusiasm (8 February). The opposition warmly criticised Disraeli's proposal, but he assured the House of Commons that the new title of honour would only be employed in India and in Indian affairs. The bill passed through all its stages before 1 May, when the queen was formally proclaimed empress of India in London.

After the close of the session she was glad of the opportunity of marking her sense of the devotion that Disraeli had shown her by offering him a peerage (21 August 1876); his health had suffered from his constant attendance in the House of Commons, and he entered the House of Lords next year as Earl of Beaconsfield. On 1 January 1877 at Delhi the governor-general of India, Lord Lytton, formally announced the queen's assumption of her title of empress to an imposing assembly of sixty-three ruling princes. Memory of the great ceremonial was perpetuated by the creation of a new Order of the Indian empire, while a new imperial Order of the Crown of India was established as a decoration for ladies whose male relatives were associated with the Indian government. The queen held the first investiture at Windsor on 29 April 1878. She gloried in her new distinction, and despite Disraeli's assurances soon recognised no restrictions in its use. She at once signed herself ‘Victoria R. & I.’ in documents relating to India, and early in 1878 she adopted the same form in English documents of state. In 1893 the words ‘Ind[iae] Imp[eratrix]’ were engraved among her titles on the British coinage.

Public appearances, 1874-6.

Her cheering relations with Lord Beaconsfield stimulated her to appear somewhat more frequently in public, and she played prominent parts in several military ceremonials in the early days of Disraeli's government. The queen had narrowly watched the progress of the little Ashanti war on the west coast of Africa, and at its successful conclusion she reviewed sailors, marines, and soldiers who had taken part in it in the Royal Clarence Victualling Yard at Gosport on 23 April 1874. At the end of the year, too, she distributed medals to the men. On 2 May 1876 she reviewed troops at Aldershot, and in the following September presented at Balmoral colours to her father's regiment, the royal Scots. She reminded the men of her military ancestry.

Visit to Coburg.

She suffered a severe shock in the autumn of 1875 when, while crossing to the Isle of Wight, her yacht, the Albert, ran down another yacht, the Mistletoe, and thus caused three of its occupants to be drowned in her presence (18 August 1875); but during the early spring of 1876 she was more active than usual in London. She attended a concert given by her command at the Royal Albert Hall (25 February). She opened in semi-state a new wing of the London Hospital (7 March). Two days later she inspected in Kensington Gardens the gorgeous Albert Memorial, the most the most elaborate of the many monuments to her husband, a colossal gilded figure of whom fills the central place. Thence, with her three younger daughters, she went to the funeral in Westminster Abbey of her old friend, Lady Augusta Stanley, whose death, after a thirty years' association, deeply moved her; in memory of Lady Augusta she erected a monumental cross in the private grounds at Frogmore.

Later in the season of 1876 she left for a three weeks' vacation at Coburg (31 March to 20 April); she travelled from Cherbourg through France, but avoided Paris, and on the return journey had an interview at La Villette station, in the neighbourhood of the capital, with the president of the republic, Marshal MacMahon. The meeting was a graceful recognition on her part of the new form of government. The German empress was once more her guest in May. While going to Balmoral a few months later, she unveiled at Edinburgh yet another Albert memorial (17 August). For the first time since the prince consort's death she kept Christmas at Windsor, owing to illness in the Isle of Wight, and transgressed what seemed to be her settled dislike of court entertainments by giving a concert in St. George's Hall (26 December).

Crisis in Eastern Europe.— The queen's efforts for peace.

During the two years that followed the queen was involved in the intricacies of European politics far more deeply than at any time since the Crimean war. The subject races of the Turkish empire in the Balkans threatened the Porte with revolt in the autumn of 1875. The insurrection spread rapidly, and there was the likelihood that Russia, to serve her own ends, might come to the rescue of the insurgents. Disraeli adopted Palmerston's policy of 1854, and declared that British interests in India and elsewhere required the maintenance of the sultan's authority inviolate. Turkey endeavoured to suppress the insurrection in the Balkans with great barbarity, notably in Bulgaria; and in the autumn of 1876 Gladstone, who had lately announced his retirement from public life, suddenly emerged from his seclusion in order to stir the people of the United Kingdom by the energy of his eloquence to resist the bestowal on Turkey of any English favour or support.

One effect of Gladstone's vehemence was to tighten the bond between Beaconsfield and the queen. She accepted unhesitatingly Lord Beaconsfield's view that England was bound to protect Turkey from permanent injury at Russia's hands, and she bitterly resented the embarrassments that Gladstone caused her minister. But she did not readily abandon hope that Russia might be persuaded to abstain from interference in the Balkans. The occupants of the thrones of Russia and Germany were her personal friends, and she believed her private influence with them might keep the peace. Princess Alice met the tsar at Darmstadt in July 1876, and he assured the queen through her daughter that he had no wish for a conflict with England. Thus encouraged, she wrote to him direct, and then appealed to the German emperor to use his influence with him. She even twice addressed herself to Bismarck in the same sense. But her efforts failed. Russia declared war on Turkey on 24 April 1877, and before the end of the year had won a decisive victory.

At Hughenden.

All the queen's sympathy with Russia thereupon vanished, and she, no less than Lord Beaconsfield, was resolved that England should regulate the fruits of Russia's success. Twice did she openly indicate her sympathy with her minister in the course of 1877 — first by opening parliament in person in February, and secondly by paying him a visit in circumstances of much publicity at his country seat, Hughenden Manor, Buckinghamshire. On 21 December 1877 she, with Princess Beatrice, travelled by rail from Windsor to High Wycombe station, where Beaconsfield and his secretary, Mr. Montagu Corry, met her. The mayor presented an address of welcome. Driving with her host to Hughenden, she stayed there two hours, and on leaving planted a tree on the lawn. A poem in ‘Punch’ on 29 December 1877, illustrating a sketch by Mr. Linley Sambourne, humorously suggested the powerful impression that the incident created both in England and in Europe.

Her support of Beaconsfield's policy.

At the beginning of 1878 the sultan made a personal appeal to the queen to induce the tsar to accept lenient terms of peace. She telegraphed to the tsar an entreaty to accelerate negotiations; but when the tsar forced on Turkey conditions which gave him a preponderating influence within the sultan's dominions, she supported Lord Beaconsfield in demanding that the whole settlement should be referred to a congress of the European powers. Through the storms that succeeded no minister received stauncher support from his sovereign than Lord Beaconsfield from the queen. The diplomatic struggle brought the two countries to the brink of war, but the queen deprecated retreat. Before the congress of Berlin met in June 1878, Beaconsfield warned the queen that his determination to prevent Russia from getting a foothold south of the Danube might abruptly end in active hostilities. The queen declared herself ready to face the risk. When, therefore, at an early session of the congress, a deadlock arose between Lord Beaconsfield, who acted as the English envoy, and Prince Gortschakoff, the Russian envoy, and Lord Beaconsfield threatened departure from Berlin so that the dispute might be settled by ‘other means,’ he made no empty boast, but acted in accord with an understanding which he had previously reached with the queen. Russia yielded the specific point at Bismarck's persuasion; and although both the material and moral advantages that England derived from her intervention were long questioned, the queen welcomed Lord Beaconsfield with unstinted eulogy when he returned from Berlin, bringing, in his own phrase, ‘peace with honour.’ On 22 July 1878 she invested him at Osborne with the order of the garter. War preparations had meantime been in active progress with the queen's full approval. On 13 May 1878 she had held a review on a great scale at Aldershot in company with the crown prince and princess of Prussia, who were her guests; and on 13 August she reviewed at Spithead in inauspicious weather a strong fleet designed for ‘special service.’

The biography of prince consort.

The situation revived at all stages the queen's memory of the earlier conflict with Russia, the course of which had been largely guided by her husband's resolution. She had lately re-studied closely the incidents of the Crimean war in connection with the Life of the prince consort, on which Sir Theodore Martin was engaged under her supervision. At the end of 1877 there appeared the third volume of the biography, which illustrated the strength of court feeling against Russia when the Crimean war was in progress. The Spectator, a journal supporting Gladstone, censured the volume as ‘a party pamphlet’ in favour of Lord Beaconsfield, and Gladstone himself reviewed it in self-defence.

Domestic incident, 1878. — Death of Princess Alice.

Domestic incident during 1878 was hardly less abundant than public incident. On 22 February there took place at Berlin the first marriage of a grandchild of the queen, when Charlotte, the eldest daughter of the crown prince and princess, married the hereditary Duke of Saxe-Meiningen. But it was mainly death in the queen's circle that marked her domestic year. Her former ally, Victor Emanuel, had died on 9 January Two attempts at Berlin to assassinate the old German emperor (11 May and 2 June) gave her an alarming impression of the condition of Germany, where she specially feared the advance of socialism and atheism. On 4 June died Lord Russell, and she at once offered his family, through Lord Beaconsfield, a public funeral in Westminster Abbey; but the offer was declined, and he was buried at Chenies.

A few days later (12 June) there passed away at Paris her first cousin, the dethroned and blind king of Hanover. She gave directions for his burial in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, and herself attended the funeral (25 June). But the heaviest blow that befell her in the year was the loss of her second daughter, Princess Alice, who had been her companion in her heaviest trials. She died of diphtheria at Darmstadt on 14 December, the seventeenth anniversary of the prince consort's death. It was the first loss of a child that the queen had experienced, and no element of sorrow was absent. The people again shared their sovereign's grief, and on the 26th she addressed to them a simple letter of thanks, describing the dead princess as ‘a bright example of loving tenderness, courageous devotion, and self-sacrifice to duty.’ She erected a granite cross to her memory at Balmoral next year, and showed the tenderest interest in her motherless family.

1879 brought more happiness in its train. Amid greater pomp than had characterised royal weddings since that of the princess royal, the queen attended on 13 March the marriage at St. George's Chapel, Windsor, of her third son, the Duke of Connaught. The bride was daughter of Prince Frederick Charles of Prussia (the red prince), a nephew of the German emperor, and the new connection with the Prussian house was thoroughly congenial to the queen.

First visit to Italy, 1879.— The prince imperial's death.

Twelve days later the queen enjoyed the new experience of a visit to Italy. She stayed for nearly a month, till 23 April, at Baveno on Lago Maggiore. She delighted in the scenery, and was gratified by a visit from the new King Humbert and Queen Margherita of Italy. On her return to England she learned of the birth of her first great-grandchild, the firstborn of the hereditary princess of Saxe-Meiningen. Hardly had the congratulations ceased when she suffered a terrible shock by the death, 19 June 1879, in the Zulu war of the prince imperial, the only child of the ex-empress of the French. He had gone to Africa as a volunteer in the English army, and was slain when riding almost alone in the enemy's country. He was regarded with much affection by the queen and by the Princess Beatrice, and all the queen's wealth of sympathy was bestowed on the young man's mother, the widowed Empress Eugénie. While the prince's remains were being interred at Chislehurst the queen was the empress's sole companion (12 July).

The ministry's difficulties.

At the time the political situation was not promising, and was a source of grave anxiety to the queen. The Zulu war, in which the prince imperial met his death, was only one symptom of the unrest in South Africa which the high-handed policy of the governor of the Cape, Sir Bartle Frere, had brought about. Lord Beaconsfield did not conceal his disapproval of the action of the governor, but his preoccupation with Eastern Europe had not permitted him to control the situation, and he felt bound to defend the positions into which the government had been led by its accredited representative. Equal difficulties were encountered in India, where the rival pretensions of England and Russia to dominate the amir of Afghanistan had involved the Indian government, under Lord Lytton's viceroyalty, in two successive wars with the Afghans (November 1878 and December 1879).

The strife of political parties at home greatly complicated the situation, and gave the queen additional cause of distress. Gladstone, during the autumn of 1879, in a series of passionate speeches delivered in Midlothian, charged the government with fomenting disaster by their blustering imperialism. The queen resented his campaign. His persistent attacks on Lord Beaconsfield roused her wrath, and in private letters she invariably described his denunciations of her favourite minister as shameless or disgraceful. Her faith in Beaconsfield was unquenchable. He acknowledged her sympathy in avowals of the strongest personal attachment to her. He was ambitious, he told her, of securing for her office greater glory than it had yet attained. He was anxious to make her the dictatress of Europe. ‘Many things,’ he wrote, ‘are preparing which for the sake of peace and civilisation render it most necessary that her majesty should occupy that position.’ But there were ominous signs that Beaconsfield's lease of power was reaching its close, despite all the queen could do to lengthen it. For the fourth time while he was prime minister the queen opened the last session of his parliament on 5 February 1880. The ceremonial was conducted with greater elaboration than at any time since the prince's death. On 24 March parliament was dissolved, and the future of Lord Beaconsfield was put to the hazard of the people's vote.

Visit to Germany, 1880.— Gladstone resumes office, 1880.

Next day the queen left on a month's visit to Germany. She spent most of her time at her late half-sister's Villa Hohenlohe at Baden-Baden, but went thence to Darmstadt to attend the confirmation of two daughters of the late Princess Alice. In the family circle of her daughter, the crown princess, she found while abroad much to gratify her. Her grandson, Prince William of Prussia (Emperor William II), was just betrothed to Princess Victoria of [Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg] Augustenburg, daughter of Duke Frederick, the claimant to the duchy of Holstein, who had fared so disastrously in the Schleswig-Holstein struggle, and had died in the previous January. She sympathised with the sentiment of the young man's parents that poetic justice was rendered to Duke Frederick, whom Bismarck's Prussian policy had crushed, by the entrance of his daughter into the direct line of succession to the imperial crown of the Prussian ruler's consort. But, in spite of her joy at her grandson's betrothal, her keenest interests were absorbed in the progress of the general election in England.

Telegrams passed constantly between her and the prime minister, and her spirits sank when the completeness of the defeat of the conservative party proved to her that he could serve her no longer. Liberals and home rulers had in the new House of Commons no less a majority over the conservatives than 166. On 21 April she was back at Windsor, and next day had two hours' conversation with her vanquished minister. As in 1855 and 1859, when a ministerial crisis brought her in view of the mortifying experience of making prime minister one whom she distrusted, she carefully examined all possible alternatives. As soon as Lord Beaconsfield left her she summoned by his advice Lord Hartington, who was nominal leader of the liberal party; for Gladstone had never formally resumed the post since his retirement in 1875. She invited Lord Hartington to form a ministry (22 April). He told her, to her own and Lord Beaconsfield's disappointment, that Gladstone alone had won the victory and that he alone must reap the rewards. Beaconsfield said that Lord Hartington showed want of courage in hesitating to take office; he ‘abandoned a woman in her hour of need.’

On returning to London Lord Hartington called on Gladstone. Next morning (23 April) he went back to Windsor with the queen's old friend, Lord Granville, the liberal leader of the House of Lords. Against her will they convinced her that Gladstone alone was entitled to power, and, making the best of the difficult situation, she entrusted them with a message to him requesting an interview. Gladstone hurried to Windsor the same evening, and after a few minutes' conversation he accepted the queen's commission to assume power. Gladstone's second government was soon in being, and, although some of its personnel was little to the queen's taste, she received her new advisers with constitutional correctness of demeanour.

Two acts due to the queen's kindness of heart involved her in some public censure as soon as the new liberal government was installed. She felt lifelong compassion for the family of her exiled cousin, the king of Hanover, and showed great tenderness to his daughter Frederica, whom she called ‘the poor lily of Hanover.’ She not only countenanced her marriage with Baron von Pawell-Rammingen, who was formerly her father's equerry, but arranged for the wedding to take place in her presence in her private chapel at Windsor (24 April 1880). A few months later she, as visitor of Westminster Abbey, assented to a proposal to place there a monument in memory of the late prince imperial. The House of Commons in spite of Gladstone's remonstrance, condemned the scheme on the ground of the prince's nationality (16 July 1880). The queen at once appointed a site for the monument in St. George's Chapel, Windsor (21 July).

Distrust of ministerial measures.

The misgivings with which the queen's new advisers inspired her stimulated her critical activity. She informed Gladstone and his colleagues that she insisted on a full exercise of her right of ‘commenting on all proposals before they are matured.’ Ministers must take no decision before their completed plans were before her. One of the new government's first domestic measures — the burials bill — at once caused her disquietude. The bill was designed to authorise the conduct of funerals by nonconformist ministers in parish churchyards, and the queen anxiously sought the opinion of Lord Selborne, like herself a devoted adherent of the Anglican establishment, respecting the forms of religious service in churchyards that were to be sanctioned.

She was more seriously perturbed by the government's plans for the further reorganisation of the army, the control of which, despite the last liberal government's legislation, she persisted in treating as the crown's peculiar province. In May she stoutly protested against the proposal for the complete abolition of flogging in the army, to which she saw no possible alternative ‘in extreme cases of cowardice, treachery, plundering, or neglect of duty on sentry.’ She objected to the suspension of the practice of giving honorary colonelcies with incomes as rewards for distinguished officers; any abuse in the method of distribution could be easily remedied. When Childers, the secretary of war, in the winter of 1880 sketched out a scheme for linking battalions and giving regiments territorial designations, she warmly condemned changes which were likely, in her opinion, to weaken the regimental esprit de corps. Childers, though he respectfully considered the queen's suggestions, rarely adopted them, and in a speech at Pontefract on 19 January 1882 he felt himself under the necessity of openly contesting the view that the crown still governed the army.

Afghanistan, 1880 — The Transvaal, 1881.

During the first months of Gladstone's second administration the queen's main energies were devoted to urging on the ministers the duty of spirited and sustained action in bringing to an end the wars in Afghanistan and South Africa, which their predecessors had left on their hands. The Afghan campaign of 1880 she watched with the closest attention. After the defeat of the English troops at Maiwand (27 July 1880) she wrote to Childers of her dread lest the government should not adequately endeavour to retrieve the disaster. She had heard rumours, she said, of an intended reduction of the army by the government. She thought there was need of increasing it. On 22 August she proved her anxiety by inspecting the troopship Jumna which was taking reinforcements to India. But, to her intense satisfaction and gratitude, Sir Frederick (now Earl) Roberts, by a prompt march on Kandahar, reduced the Afghans to submission. The new amir, Abdur-Rahman, was securely installed on the Afghan throne, and to the queen's relief he maintained to the end of her reign friendly relations with her and her government, frequently speaking to his family and court in praise of her character and rule. In like manner, after the outbreak of the Boer war in December 1880, and the defeat and death of General Colley on 27 February 1881 at Majuba Hill, the queen was unremitting in her admonitions to the government to bestir themselves. She recommended Sir Frederick Roberts for the vacant chief command in the Transvaal — a recommendation which the government made independently at the same moment.

Her ministers however, decided to carry to a conclusion the peace negotiations which had previously been opened with the Boers, and before General Roberts landed in South Africa the war was ended by the apparent capitulation of the queen's advisers to the enemy. The ministerial action conflicted with the queen's views and wishes, and served to increase her distrust of ministerial policy.

But, whatever her opinion of her government's diplomacy, she was not sparing in signs of sympathy with the sufferings of her troops in the recent hostilities. By her desire the colours of the 24th regiment, which had been temporarily lost during the Zulu war at the battle of Isandhlwana, but were afterwards recovered, were brought to Osborne, and while speaking to the officers in charge of the bravery of the regiment and its trials in South Africa, she decorated the colours with a wreath (28 July 1880). During 1882, she once more held a review at Aldershot (16 May), and she presented at Parkhurst, Isle of Wight, new colours to the second battalion of the Berkshire regiment (66th), which had lost their old colours at Maiwand in Afghanistan (17 August).

Death of Beaconsfield, 19 April, 1881.

Discontent with her present advisers intensified the grief with which she learned of the death of Lord Beaconsfield — her ‘dear great friend’ she called him — on 19 April 1881. She and all members of her family treated his loss as a personal bereavement. Two days after his death she wrote from Osborne to Dean Stanley: ‘His devotion and kindness to me, his wise counsels, his great gentleness combined with firmness, his one thought of the honour and glory of the country, and his unswerving loyalty to the throne make the death of my dear Lord Beaconsfield a national calamity. My grief is great and lasting.’ She knew, she added, that he would wish to be buried beside his wife at Hughenden, but she directed that a public monument should be placed to his memory in Westminster Abbey. At the funeral at Hughenden, on the 26th, she was represented by the prince of Wales and Prince Leopold. Of two wreaths which she sent, one, of primroses, bore the inscription, ‘His favourite flower. ...A tribute of affection from Queen Victoria,’ and thus inaugurated the permanent association of the primrose with Lord Beaconsfield's memory. But such marks of regard did not exhaust the queen's public acts of mourning. Four days after the burial (30 April) she and the Princess Beatrice visited Lord Beaconsfield's house at Hughenden, and the queen placed with her own hands a wreath of white camellias on the coffin, which lay in the still open vault in the churchyard. Next year, on a site chosen by herself in the church, she set up a memorial tablet — a low-relief profile portrait of the minister — with an inscription from her own pen: ‘To the dear and honoured memory of Benjamin, Earl of Beaconsfield, this memorial is placed by his grateful and affectionate sovereign and friend Victoria R.I. (“Kings love him that speaketh right.” — Proverbs xvi. 13.) February 27th, 1882.’ No sovereign in the course of English history had given equal proofs of attachment to a minister.

The queen's generous sympathies were never wholly absorbed by her own subjects or her friends at home. A few weeks before Lord Beaconsfield's death she was shocked by the assassination of the Tsar Alexander II, father of her daughter-in-law, the Duchess of Edinburgh (13 March), and a few months later the death by a like violence of President Garfield of the United States drew from her an autograph letter of condolence to the widow which the veteran politician Charles Pelham Villiers described as a ‘masterpiece’ of womanly consideration and political tact.

War in Egypt, 1882. — The queen's urgency.

Before the end of 1881 the government was involved in grave difficulties in Egypt. Arabi Pasha, the khedive's war minister, fomented a rebellion against the khedive's authority in the autumn, and by the summer of 1882 he had gained complete control of the Egyptian government. Grave disorders in the administration of Egyptian finance had led England and France in 1878 to form what was known as the dual control of the Egyptian revenue, and this arrangement imposed on them the responsibility of preserving order in the country. France now, however, declined to join England in active defence of the khedive's authority, and the queen's government undertook to repress the insurrection of Arabi single-handed.

The queen, quickly convinced of the need of armed intervention, evinced characteristic solicitude for prompt and effectual action. On 10 July, when hostilities were imminent, she inquired of Childers what forces were in readiness, and deprecated the selection of a commander-in-chief until she had had time to consider the government's suggestions. The condition of the transport and the supply of horses demanded, she pointed out, immediate consideration. On the 21st she approved the appointment of Sir Garnet Wolseley as commander-in-chief, with Sir John Adye as chief of the staff. On 28 July she asked for information respecting the press regulations. Her concern for the success of the expedition was increased by the appointment, with her full consent, of her son, the Duke of Connaught, to the command of the guards' brigade in the first division of the army, while the Duke of Teck filled a place on Wolseley's staff. Until the whole of the expeditionary force was embarked she never ceased to advise the war office respecting practical points of equipment, and was peremptory in her warnings in regard to food supplies and hospital equipment. The comfort as well as the health of the troops needed, in her view, attention. In a single day in August she forwarded no less than seventeen notes to the minister of war.

The opening of the campaign sharpened her zeal. On 12 September she wrote from Balmoral, ‘My thoughts are entirely fixed on Egypt and the coming battle.’ When the news of the decisive victory at Tel-el-Kebir reached her (13 September), she caused a bonfire to be lit on the top of Craig Gowan, thus celebrating the receipt of the news in the same way as that of the fall of Sebastopol in 1855. But her joy at the victory was dashed by the fear that the government would not follow it up with resolution. She was aware of differences of opinion in the cabinet, and she spared no exertion to stiffen the backs of her ministers. On 19 September she protested alike against any present diminution of troops in Egypt, and against the lenient treatment of the rebellious Arabi. On 21 September 1882 she wrote to Childers: ‘If Arabi and the other principal rebels who are the cause of the deaths of thousands are not severely punished, revolution and rebellion will be greatly encouraged, and we may have to do all over again. The whole state of Egypt and its future are full of grave difficulties, and we must take great care that, short of annexation, our position is firmly established there, and that we shall not have to shed precious blood and expend much money for nothing.’

Finally Egypt was pacified, and English predominance was secured, although disorder was suffered to spread in the subsidiary provinces of the Soudan with peril to the future. In the last months of the year the queen turned to the grateful task of meting out rewards to those who had engaged in the recent operations. In October she devised a new decoration of the royal red cross for nurses who rendered efficient service in war; the regulations were finally issued on 7 April 1883. On 18 November she reviewed in St. James's Park eight thousand troops who had just returned from Egypt; and at Windsor, three days later, when she distributed war medals, she delivered to the men a stirring address of thanks.

Irish affairs.

But it was not only abroad that anxieties confronted the queen and her government during 1882. For the fifth time the queen's life was threatened by assassination. A lunatic, one Roderick Maclean, fired a pistol at her — happily without hitting her — on 2 March at Windsor railway station, as she was returning from London. Soon afterwards disaffection in Ireland reached a climax in the murder of Lord Frederick Cavendish, the chief secretary, and of Thomas Henry Burke, the under-secretary (6 May). Resolution in the suppression of disorder always won the queen's admiration, and she had given every encouragement to W. E. Forster, while Irish secretary, in his strenuous efforts to uphold the law. The more conciliatory policy which ultimately prevailed with Forster's successors awoke no enthusiasm in her.

Prince Leopold's marriage.

Happily the queen found some compensation for her varied troubles in private life. In the spring she spent a vacation abroad for the first time in the Riviera, staying for a month at Mentone. Once more, too, a marriage in her family gladdened her. Her youngest son, Leopold, Duke of Albany, had become engaged to a German princess of the house of Waldeck-Pyrmont, whose sister was second wife of the king of the Netherlands. Parliament was invited on 23 March to increase the prince's income, as in the case of his two next elder brothers, from £15,000 to £25,000. Gladstone pressed the proposal on the House of Commons, but as many as forty-two members — mainly from Ireland — voted against the proposal, which was carried by a majority of 345. The customary corollary that in case of the prince's death £6,000 a year was to be allowed his widow happily passed without dissent. Shortly after the queen's return from Mentone she attended the marriage at St. George's Chapel, Windsor. She purchased in perpetuity the crown property of Claremont, which had been granted her for life by parliament on the death in 1866 of its former holder, King Leopold, and generously presented it to the newly married pair for their residence. Twice during the year she took part in public ceremonies of interest. On 6 May she went to Epping Forest, which the corporation of London had recently secured for a public recreation ground, and she dedicated it formally to public use. At the end of the year, on 4 December, at the request of the lord chancellor, she inaugurated the new law courts in the Strand.

Years of gloom, 1883-5.

The prevailing note of the queen's life, owing alike to public and private causes, during the two years that followed was one of gloom. At the close of 1882 she had been deprived by death of another friend in whom she trusted — Archbishop Tait. Fortunately she found Gladstone in agreement with herself as to the fitness of Edward White Benson, the first headmaster of her husband's foundation of Wellington College, and afterwards first bishop of Truro, to succeed to the primacy. Benson's acceptance of the office was, she said, ‘a great support to herself,’ and with him her relations were uninterruptedly cordial. At the moment that he took the appointment, the queen suffered a new sense of desolation from the death, on 27 March 1883, of her faithful attendant, John Brown. She placed a tombstone to his memory in Crathie churchyard, and invited suggestions from Tennyson for the inscription, which she prepared herself. At Balmoral she caused a statue of Brown to be erected, and at Osborne a granite seat was inscribed with pathetic words to his memory. Subsequently an accidental fall on the staircase at Windsor rendered her unable to walk for many months and increased her depression. Even in January 1884 it was formally announced that she could not stand for more than a few minutes.

Prince Leopold's death.

John Brown

John Brown

In the summer of 1883 she consoled herself in her loneliness by preparing for publication another selection from her journal — More Leaves from a Journal of Life in the Highlands, 1862-1882, and she dedicated it ‘To my loyal highlanders, and especially to the memory of my devoted personal attendant and faithful friend, John Brown.’

She still took a justly modest view of the literary value of her work. When she sent a copy to Tennyson she described herself as ‘a very humble and unpretending author, the only merit of whose writing was its simplicity and truth.’ Unluckily her reviving spirit was dashed by the second loss of a child. On 28 March 1884, the Duke of Albany, her youngest and her lately married son, died suddenly at Cannes. This trial shook her severely, but she met it with courage. ‘Though all happiness is at an end for me in this world,’ she wrote to Tennyson, ‘I am ready to fight on.’ In a letter to her people, dated from Windsor Castle 14 April, she promised ‘to labour on for the sake of my children, and for the good of the country I love so well, as long as I can;’ and she tactfully expressed thanks to the people of France, in whose territory her son had died, for the respect and kindness that they had shown. Although the pacific temper and condition of the prince's life rendered the ceremony hardly appropriate, the queen directed a military funeral for him in St. George's Chapel, Windsor, on 6 April.

The Soudan. — General Gordon. — The queen's view of Gordon's death.

The conduct of the government during the year (1883-4) gave her small cause for satisfaction. Egypt, which was now practically administered by England, was the centre of renewed anxiety. Since Arabi's insurrection, the inhabitants of the Soudan had, under a fanatical leader, the Mahdi, been in revolt against Egyptian rule, and they were now menacing the Egyptian frontier. During 1883 the English ministry had to decide whether to suppress by force the rebellion in the Soudan, or by abandoning the territory to the insurgents to cut it off from Egypt altogether. To the queen's dismay the policy of abandonment was adopted, with a single qualification. Some Egyptian garrisons still remained in the Soudan in positions of the gravest peril, and these the English government undertook to rescue.

The queen recommended prompt and adequate action, but her words fell on deaf ears (January 1884). In obedience to journalistic clamour the government confined themselves to sending General Gordon, whose influence with the Soudan natives had in the past proved very great, to Khartoum, the capital of the disturbed districts, in order to negotiate with the rebels for the relief of the threatened garrisons. The queen watched Gordon's advance towards his goal with the gravest concern. She constantly reminded the government of the danger he was running. His influence with the natives of the Soudan unluckily proved to be of no avail, and he was soon himself besieged in Khartoum by the Mahdi's forces. Thereupon the queen solemnly and unceasingly warned the government of the obligations they were under of despatching a British expedition to relieve him.

The government feared to involve itself further in war in Egypt, but the force of public opinion was with the queen, and in the autumn a British army was sent out, under Lord Wolseley, with a view to Gordon's rescue. The queen reproached the government with the delay, which she treated as a gross neglect of public duty. The worst followed. The expedition failed to effect its purpose; Khartoum was stormed, and Gordon was killed before the relieving force arrived (26 January 1885). No disaster of her reign caused the queen more pain and indignation. She expressed scorn for her advisers with unqualified frankness. In a letter of condolence, written with her own hand, to Gordon's sister she said that she ‘keenly felt the stain left upon England’ by General Gordon's ‘cruel but heroic fate’ (17 February 1885). She had a bust of Gordon placed in the corridor at Windsor, and when Miss Gordon presented her with her brother's bible she kept it in a case in the corridor near her private rooms at Windsor, often showing it to her guests as one of her most valued treasures. She greatly interested herself in the further efforts to rescue the Egyptian garrisons in the Soudan. In February 1885 the grenadier guards, who were ordered thither, paraded before her at Windsor, and she was gratified by offers of men from the Australian colonies, which she acknowledged with warm gratitude, although the government declined them. At the end of the year she visited the wounded at Netley, and she distributed medals to non-commissioned officers and men at Windsor. But the operations in the Soudan brought her cold comfort. They lacked the decisive success which she loved to associate with the achievements of British arms, and she regretfully saw the Soudan relapse into barbarism.

The queen and the franchise bill, 1884.

Home politics had meanwhile kept the queen closely occupied through the autumn of 1884. In the ordinary session of that year the government had passed through the House of Commons a bill for a wide extension of the franchise: this the House of Lords had rejected in the summer, whereupon the government announced their intention of passing it a second time through the House of Commons in an autumn session. A severe struggle between the two houses was thus imminent. The queen had adopted Lord Beaconsfield's theory that the broader the basis of the constitution, the more secure the crown, and she viewed the fuller enfranchisement of the labouring classes with benevolence. At the same time she always regarded a working harmony between the two houses of parliament as essential to the due stability of the monarchy, and in the existing crisis she was filled with a lively desire to settle the dispute between two estates of the realm with the least possible delay. In her private secretary, Sir Henry Ponsonby, she had a tactful counsellor, and she did not hesitate through him to use her personal influence with the leaders of both parties to secure a settlement.

Luckily it was soon apparent that the danger of conflict looked greater than it was. Before her intervention had gone far, influential members of the conservative party, including Lord Randolph Churchill and Sir Michael Hicks Beach, had independently reached the conclusion that the House of Lords might safely pass the franchise bill if to it were joined a satisfactory bill for the redistribution of seats. This view rapidly gained favour in the conservative ranks, and was approved by some of Gladstone's colleagues, although he himself at first opposed it. The queen urged on all sides a compromise on these lines, and her influence with leading conservatives of the House of Lords removed what might have proved to be a strong obstacle to its accomplishment. Before the end of the year (1884) the franchise bill and a redistribution of seats bill were concurrently introduced into parliament, and the queen had the satisfaction of seeing averted the kind of warfare that she most dreaded within the borders of the constitution.

The princes of Battenberg. — Princess Beatrice's marriage, 1885.

The queen spent the spring of 1885 at Aix-les-Bains, and on her return journey visited Darmstadt to attend the confirmation of her grandchild, Princess Irene of Hesse-Darmstadt. But there were other reasons for the visit. Her care for the Hesse family had brought her the acquaintance of the grand Duke's first cousins, the young princes of Battenberg. They were sons of the grand Duke's uncle, Prince Alexander of Hesse, by a morganatic marriage with the Countess von Hauke, who was created countess of Battenberg in 1851. All the brothers were known to the queen, had been her guests, and found favour with her. The eldest, Prince Louis, joined the British navy, became a naturalised British subject, and in 1884 married Princess Alice's eldest daughter and the queen's granddaughter, Princess Victoria of Hesse. Thenceforth the relations of the three brothers with the royal family grew more intimate, with the result that in 1885 the third and youngest of them, Prince Henry of Battenberg, proposed marriage to the queen's youngest daughter, Princess Beatrice. The queen readily assented, and, in letters announcing the engagement to her friends, spoke of Prince Henry's soldierly accomplishment, although, she frankly added, he had not seen active service.

The princess had long been the queen's constant companion, and it was agreed that the princess with her husband should still reside with her. Parliament, on Gladstone's motion, voted the princess the usual dowry of £30,000 with an annuity of £6,000. The minority numbered 38, the majority 337. But the match was not popular in England, where little was known of Prince Henry except his German origin, nor was it well received at the court of Berlin, where the comparatively low rank of the Battenbergs was held to unfit them for close relations with the queen. The marriage took place in a simple fashion, which delighted the queen, at Whippingham church, near Osborne, on 23 July.

All the queen's nine children had thus entered the matrimonial state. The queen's mode of life was in no way affected by the admission of Prince Henry into the royal circle. She always enjoyed the society of the young, and in course of time she was cheered by the presence in her household of the children of Princess Beatrice.

Gladstone's fall, 8 June 1885. — Lord Salisbury's first ministry

Much else happened to brighten the queen's horizon in the summer of 1885. Princess Beatrice's marriage followed hard upon the fall of Gladstone's government. It had been effectually discredited by its incoherent Egyptian policy, and it was defeated on its budget proposals on 8 June 1885. Gladstone at once resigned, and the queen did not permit differences of opinion to restrain her from offering him, in accordance with her practice on the close of a minister's second administration, a reward for long service in the form of an earldom. This honour Gladstone declined. She invited the leader of the conservative party, Lord Salisbury, to form a ministry, and at his request endeavoured to obtain from Gladstone some definite promise of parliamentary support during the few months that remained before the dissolution of parliament in November, in accordance with the provisions of the recent reform bill. Gladstone replied evasively, but the queen persuaded Lord Salisbury to rest content with his assurances, and to take office (24 June). With Lord Salisbury she was at once on good terms. It was therefore disappointing to her that his first tenure of office should be threatened by the result of the general elections in November, when 250 conservative members were returned against 334 liberals and 86 Irish nationalists. The nationalists, by joining the liberals, would leave the government in a hopeless minority. The queen gave public proof of her sympathy with her conservative ministers by opening parliament in person, as it proved, for the last time (21 January 1886). Five days later Lord Salisbury's government was outvoted. The queen accepted their resignation and boldly faced the inevitable invitation to Gladstone to assume power for the third time.

Hostility to home rule.

The session that followed was the stormiest the queen had watched since Peel abolished the corn laws in 1846. But her attitude to Gladstone through the later session was the antithesis of her attitude to Peel in the earlier. Peel had changed front in 1846, and the queen had encouraged him with all her youthful enthusiasm to persevere in his new path. Gladstone suddenly resolved to grant home rule to Ireland, after having, as it was generally understood, long treated the proposal as a dangerous chimera. To Gladstone's change of front she offered a strenuous resistance. To the bestowal of home rule on Ireland she was uncompromisingly opposed, and she freely spoke her mind to all who came into intercourse with her. The grant of home rule appeared to her to be a concession to the forces of disorder. She felt that it amounted to a practical separation between England and Ireland, and that to sanction the disunion was to break the oath that she had taken at her coronation to maintain the union of the two kingdoms. She complained that Gladstone had sprung the subject on her and on the country without giving either due notice. The voters, whom she believed to be opposed to it, had had no opportunity of expressing their opinion. Gladstone and his friends replied that the establishment of a home rule parliament in Ireland increased rather than diminished the dignity of the crown by making it the strongest link which would henceforth bind the two countries together. But the queen was unconvinced. To her immense relief Gladstone was deserted by a large number of his followers, and his home rule bill was decisively rejected by the House of Commons (7 June). With that result the queen was content; she desired the question to sleep; and, although she did not fear the issue, she deprecated an immediate appeal to the country; she deemed it a needless disturbance of her own and of the country's peace to involve the people in the excitement of a general election twice within nine months. But Gladstone was resolute, and parliament was dissolved. To the queen's satisfaction the ministry was heavily defeated.

The queen and Lord Salisbury.

Gladstone resigned without meeting the new parliament, and in July Lord Salisbury for the second time was entrusted by the queen with the formation of a government. The queen's political anxieties were at once diminished. Although the unexpected resignation on 20 December 1886 of the new leader of the House of Commons, Lord Randolph Churchill, roused in her doubts of the stability of the government, and caused her to scan the chances of yet another dissolution, the crisis passed, and Lord Salisbury's second ministry retained office for a full term of years. Indeed, with an interval of less than three (1892-5), Lord Salisbury now remained her prime minister until her death, fourteen and a half years later, and thus his length of service far exceeded that of any of her previous prime ministers. Her relations with him were uniformly cordial. She knew him of old as the colleague of Lord Beaconsfield. With his general view of policy she was in accord. She especially appreciated his deep interest in, and full knowledge of, foreign affairs. She felt confidence in his judgment and admired his sturdy common sense. Hence there was none of that tension between him and the queen which was inevitable between her and Gladstone. Lord Salisbury's second and third governments gave her a sense of security to which Gladstone had made her a stranger. She soon placed a portrait of Lord Salisbury in the vestibule of her private apartments at Windsor face to face with one of Lord Beaconsfield.

The growth of imperialism.

Within a few days of the laying of the spectre of home rule, the queen began the fiftieth year of her reign (20 June 1886). The entrance on her year of jubilee, and the coming close of a quarter of a century of widowhood, conquered something of her reluctance to figure in public life, and she resumed much of her earlier public activity. On 26 February 1886 she had listened to Gounod's Mors et Vita at the Albert Hall. On 11 May she visited Liverpool to open an international exhibition of navigation and commerce. But her public appearances were mainly timed so as to indicate her sympathy with that rising tide of imperialist sentiment which was steadily flowing over the whole British empire, and was strengthening the bonds between the colonies and India and the home country.

In the early months of 1886 the prince of Wales had actively engaged in organising a colonial and Indian exhibition at South Kensington. In this enterprise the queen manifested great interest, and on 1 May she visited the exhibition, which drew numerous visitors to England from India and the colonies. On 2 July she attended a review at Aldershot held in honour of the Indian and colonial visitors whom, three days later, she entertained at lunch at Windsor. On 8 July she received there Indian and other native workmen who had taken part in the exhibition, and she accepted gifts from them. In August, on her way to Balmoral, she visited another international exhibition at Edinburgh, and later in the year she approved the suggestion made by the prince of Wales to the lord mayor of London to commemorate her fifty years of reign by inviting public subscriptions for the erection of an imperial institute which should be a meeting-place for visitors to England from India and the colonies and should permanently exhibit specimens of the natural products of every corner of her empire.

The queen learns Hindustani.

Munshi Abdul Karim

Munshi Abdul Karim

During the next year — her year of jubilee — 1887, the queen more conspicuously illustrated her attachment to India by including native Indians among her personal attendants, and from one of them, the munshi Abdul Karim, who served her as groom of the chamber, she began taking lessons in Hindustani. Although she did not make much progress in the study, the munshi remained to instruct her till her death.

The jubilee, 1887.

Since the prince consort's death her visits to London had been few and brief, rarely exceeding two nights. In order suitably to distinguish the jubilee year, 1887, from those that preceded it, she spent in the opening quarter the exceptional period of ten successive days in her capital (19-29 March). The following month she devoted to the continent, where she divided the time between Cannes and Aix-les-Bains. On returning to England she paid another visit to London, and on 14 May opened the People's Palace in the east end. The enthusiastic loyalty which was displayed on her long journey through the metropolis greatly elated her. After her customary sojourn at Balmoral (May-June) she reached London on 20 June to play her part in the celebration of her jubilee. Next day, 21 June, the chief ceremony took place, when she passed in procession to Westminster Abbey to attend a special thanksgiving service. In front of her carriage rode, at her own suggestion, a cortège of princes of her own house, her sons, her sons-in-law, and grandsons, thirty-two in all. In other processions there figured representatives of Europe, India, and the colonies, all of whom brought her rich gifts. From India came a brilliant array of ruling princes. Europe sent among its envoys four kings: those of Saxony, of Belgium, of the Hellenes, and of Denmark, together with the crown princes of Prussia, Greece, Portugal, Sweden, and Austria. The pope sent a representative, the courtesy of whose presence the queen acknowledged next year by presenting the pope at the papal jubilee with a rich golden basin and ewer.

The streets through which she and her guests passed were elaborately decorated, and her reception almost overwhelmed her in its warmth. Her route on the outward journey from Buckingham Palace lay through Constitution Hill, Piccadilly, Waterloo Place, and Parliament Street, and on her return she passed down Whitehall and Pall Mall. The first message that she received on reaching Buckingham Palace was an inquiry after her health from her aged aunt, the Duchess of Cambridge. The queen replied at once that she was ‘very tired but very happy.’ In the evening there were illuminations on a lavish scale in all the chief cities of her dominions, and at a signal given from the Malvern Hills at 10 p.m. beacon fires were lit on the principal promontories and inland heights of Great Britain from Shetland and Orkney to Land's End.

The women's gift.

Next day the queen accepted a personal gift of £75,000 subscribed by nearly three million women of England. A small part of this sum she applied to a bronze equestrian statue of the prince consort, by (Sir) Edgar Boehm, after Marochetti, to be erected on Smith's Lawn, Windsor Park, where she laid the foundation-stone on 15 July (she unveiled the statue 12 May 1890). The bulk of the women's gift she devoted to the foundation of a sick nurses' institute on a great scale, which was to provide trained attendants for the sick poor in their own homes. Succeeding incidents in the celebration, in which she took a foremost part, included, apart from court dinners and receptions, a fête in Hyde Park on 22 June to twenty-six thousand poor school children; a visit to Eton on her return to Windsor the same evening; the laying of the foundation-stone of the Imperial Institute on 6 July; a review at Aldershot on 9 July; and a naval review on 29 July. The harmony subsisting between her and her prime minister she illustrated by attending a garden party given by him in honour of her jubilee at his house at Hatfield on 13 July.

The processions, reviews, and receptions proved no transient demonstration. Permanent memorials of the jubilee were erected by public subscription in almost every town and village of the empire, taking the form of public halls, clock towers, fountains, or statues. The celebration had historic significance. The mighty outburst of enthusiasm which greeted the queen, as loudly in the colonies and India as in the United Kingdom, gave new strength to the monarchy. Thenceforth the sovereign was definitely regarded as the living embodiment of the unity not merely of the British nation but of the British empire.

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