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in too large ideas of her personal power, of displeasure were still visible, but they and too great indifference to what the were overlaid by looks of arrogance and public expects? I only ask; it is for sharp lines of peremptory hauteur. Only, you to judge.'
when Mr. Disraeli appeared, the expresAs for Victoria, she accepted every- sion changed in an instant, and the forthing-compliments, flatteries, Eliza- bidding visage became charged with bethan prerogatives—without a single smiles. For him she would do anything. qualm. After the long gloom of her be- Yielding to his encouragements, she bereavement, after the chill of the Glad
gan to emerge from her seclusion; she stonian discipline, she expanded to the appeared in London in semi-state, at hosrays of Disraeli's devotion like a flower pitals and concerts; she opened Parliain the sun. The change in her situation ment; she reviewed troops and distributed was indeed miraculous. No longer was medals at Aldershot. But such public she obliged to puzzle for hours over the signs of favour were trivial in comparison complicated details of business, for now with her private attentions. During his she had only to ask Mr. Disraeli for an hours of audience, she could hardly re explanation, and he would give it her in strain her excitement and delight. “I the most concise, in the most amusing, can only describe my reception," he wrote way. No longer was she worried by to a friend on one occasion, "by telling alarming novelties; no longer was she put you that I really thought she was going out at finding herself treated, by a rever- to embrace me. She was wreathed with ential gentleman in high collars, as if she smiles, and, as she tattled, glided about were some embodied precedent, with a the room like a bird.” In his absence recondite knowledge of Greek. And her she talked of him perpetually, and there deliverer was surely the most fascinat- was a note of unusual vehemence in her ing of men. The strain of charlatanism, solicitude for his health. "John Manwhich had unconsciously captivated her in ners," Disraeli told Lady Bradford, "who Napoleon III, exercised the same has just come from Osborne,' says that chanting effect in the case of Disraeli. the Faery only talked of one subject, and Like a dram-drinker, whose ordinary life that was her Primo. According to him, is passed in dull sobriety, her unsophisti- it was her gracious opinion that the Govcated intelligence gulped down his rococo ernment should make my health a allurements with peculiar zest. She be- Cabinet question. Dear John seemed came intoxicated, entranced. Believing quite surprised at what she said ; but you all that he told her of herself, she com- are more used to these ebullitions.” She pletely regained the self-confidence which
often sent him presents; an illustrated had been slipping away from her through- album arrived for him regularly from out the dark period that followed Al- | Windsor on Christmas Day. But her bert's death. She swelled with a new most valued gifts were the bunches of elation, while he, conjuring up before her spring flowers which, gathered by herwonderful Oriental visions, dazzled her self and her ladies in the woods at Oseyes with an imperial grandeur of which borne, marked in an especial manner the she had only dimly dreamed. Under the warmth and tenderness of her sentiments. compelling influence, her very demeanor Among these it was, he declared, the altered. Her short, stout figure, with its primroses that he loved the best. They folds of black velvet, its muslin streamers, were, he said, "the ambassadors of its heavy pearls at the heavy neck, as- Spring," "the gems and jewels of Nasumed an almost menacing air. In her
ture.” He liked them, he assured her, countenance, from which the charm of "so much better for their being wild ; they youth had long since vanished, and which had not yet been softened by age, the
1 Victoria's country estate on the Isle of traces of grief, of disappointment, and Wight.
seem an offering from the Fauns and say, turn the heads of those who receive Dryads of Osborne." "They show," he them.” told her, “that your Majesty's scepter has A Faery gift! Did he smile as he touched the enchanted Isle." He sat at wrote the words? Perhaps; and yet it dinner with heaped-up bowls of them on would be rash to conclude that his perevery side, and told his guests that "they fervid declarations were altogether withwere all sent to me this morning by the out sincerity. Actor and spectator both, Queen from Osborne, as she knows it is the two characters were so intimately my favorite flower.”
blended together in that odd composition As time went on, and as it became that they formed an inseparable unity, clearer and clearer that the Faery's thral- and it was impossible to say that one of dom was complete, his protestations grew them was less genuine than the other. steadily more highly-colored and more un- With one element, he could coldly apabashed. At last he ventured to import praise the Faery's intellectual capacity, into his blandishments a strain of adora- note with some surprise that she could tion that was almost avowedly romantic. be on occasion “most interesting and In phrases of baroque convolution, he amusing," and then continue his use of conveyed the message of his heart. The the trowel with an ironical solemnity; pressure of business, he wrote, had “so while, with the other, he could be overabsorbed and exhausted him, that towards whelmed by the immemorial panoply of the hour of post he has not had clear-royalty, and, thrilling with the sense of ness of mind, and vigor of pen, adequate his own strange elevation, dream himself to convey his thoughts and facts to the into a gorgeous phantasy of crowns and most loved and illustrious being, who
powers and chivalric love. When he told deigns to consider them.” She sent him Victoria that “during a somewhat rosome primroses, and he replied that he mantic and imaginative life, nothing has could "truly say they are more precious ever occurred to him so interesting as this than rubies,' coming, as they do, and at confidential correspondence with one so such a moment, from a Sovereign whom exalted and so inspiring," was he not in he adores.” She sent him snowdrops, earnest after all ? When he wrote to a and his sentiment overflowed into poetry. | lady about the Court, “I love the Queen "Yesterday eve," he wrote, "there ap- -perhaps the only person in this world peared, in Whitehall Gardens, a delicate- left to me that I do love," was he not looking case, with a royal superscription, creating for himself an enchanted palace which, when he opened, he thought, at out of the Arabian Nights, full of melanfirst, that your Majesty had graciously be-choly and spangles, in which he actually stowed upon him the stars of your Ma- believed ? Victoria's state of mind was jesty's principal orders. And, indeed, he far more simple; untroubled by imaginatwas so impressed with this graceful illu- ive yearnings, she never lost herself in sion, that, having a banquet, where there that nebulous region of the spirit where were many stars and ribbons, he could feeling and fancy grow confused. Her not resist the temptation, by placing some emotions, with all their intensity and all snowdrops on his heart, of showing that, their exaggeration, retained the plain prohe, too, was decorated by a gracious Sov- saic texture of everyday life. And it was ereign.
fitting that her expression of them should "Then, in the middle of the night, it be equally commonplace. She was, she occurred to him, that it might all be an told her Prime Minister, at the end of an enchantment, and that, perhaps, it was a official letter, “yours aff’ly V. R. and I."1 Faery gift and came from another mon- In such a phrase the deep reality arch: Queen Titania, gathering flowers, of her feeling is instantly manifest. The with her Court, in a soft and sea-girt isle,
1 Victoria Regina and Imperatrix (Vicand sending magic blossoms, which, they toria, Queen and Empress).
Faery's feet were on the solid earth; it the alteration of the Royal Title. His was the rusé cynic who was in the air. compliance, however, finally conquered
He had taught her, however, a lesson, the Faery's heart. The measure was anwhich she had learnt with alarming grily attacked in both Houses, and Vicrapidity. A second Gloriana, did he call toria was deeply touched by the untiring her? Very well, then, she would show energy with which Disraeli defended it. that she deserved the compliment. Dis- She was, she said, much grieved by "the quieting symptoms followed fast. In worry and annoyance" to which he was May, 1874, the Tsar, whose daughter subjected; she feared she was the cause had just been married to Victoria's second of it, and she would never forget what son, the Duke of Edinburgh, was in Lon- she owed to "her kind, good, and considdon, and, by an unfortunate error, it had erate friend.” At the same time, her been arranged that his departure should wrath fell on the Opposition. Their not take place until two days after the conduct, she declared, was "extraordindate on which his royal hostess had pre- ary, incomprehensible, and mistaken," viously decided to go to Balmoral. Her and, in an emphatic sentence which Majesty refused to modify her plans. It seemed to contradict both itself and all was pointed out to her that the Tsar her former proceedings, she protested that would certainly be offended, that the most she "would be glad if it were more genserious consequences might follow; Lord erally known that it was her wish, as Derby protested; Lord Salisbury, the people will have it, that it has been forced Secretary of State for India, was much upon her!" When the affair was sucperturbed. But the Faery was uncon- cessfully over, the imperial triumph was cerned; she had settled to go to Bal- celebrated in a suitable manner. On the moral on the 18th, and on the 18th she day of the Delhi Proclamation, the new would go. At last Disraeli, exercising | Earl of Beaconsfield went to Windsor to all his influence, induced her to agree to dine with the new Empress of India. stay in London for two days more. “My That night the Faery, usually so homely head is still on my shoulders," he told in her attire, appeared in a glittering Lady Bradford. “The great lady has panoply of enormous uncut jewels, which absolutely postponed her
her departure! had been presented to her by the reignEverybody had failed, even the Prince of ing Princes of her Raj. At the end of Wales;
and I have no doubt the meal the Prime Minister, breaking I am not in favor. I can't help it through the rules of etiquette, arose, and Salisbury says I have saved an Afghan in a flowery oration proposed the health of War, and Derby compliments me on my the Queen-Empress. His audacity was unrivalled triumph. But before very
well received, and his speech was relong, on another issue, the triumph was warded by a smiling curtsey. the Faery's. Disraeli, who had sud- These were significant episodes; but a denly veered towards a new Imperialism, still more serious manifestation of Vichad thrown out the suggestion that the toria's temper occurred in the following Queen of England ought to become the year, during the crowning crisis of BeaEmpress of India. Victoria seized upon consfield's life. His growing imperialism, the idea with avidity, and, in season and his desire to magnify the power and presout of season, pressed upon her Prime tige of England, his insistence upon a Minister the desirability of putting his "spirited foreign policy,” had brought proposal into practice. He demurred; him into collision with Russia; the terribut she was not to balked; and in 1876, ble Eastern Question loomed up; and in spite of his own unwillingness and that when war broke out between Russia and of his entire Cabinet, he found himself | Turkey, the gravity of the situation beobliged to add to the troubles of a came extreme. The Prime Minister's stormy session by introducing a bill for policy was fraught with difficulty and
danger. Realizing perfectly the appall- did she show herself a more furious paring implications of an Anglo-Russian tisan. But her displeasure was not rewar, he was yet prepared to face even served for the Radicals; the backsliding that eventuality if he could obtain his Conservatives equally felt its force. She ends by no other method; but he believed was even discontented with Lord Beathat Russia in reality was still less de- consfield himself. Failing entirely to apsirous of a rupture, and that, if he played preciate the delicate complexity of his his game with sufficient boldness and policy, she constantly assailed him with adroitness, she would yield, when it came demands for vigorous action, interpreted to the point, all that he required without each finesse as a sign of weakness, and a blow. It was clear that the course he was ready at every juncture to let slip the had marked out for himself was full of dogs of war. As the situation developed, hazard, and demanded an extraordinary
anxiety grew feverish. "The nerve; a single false step, and either him- Queen," she wrote, “is feeling terribly self, or England, might be plunged in dis-anxious lest delay should cause us to be aster. But nerve he had never lacked; too late and lose our prestige for ever! he began his diplomatic egg-dance with It worries her night and day.” “The high assurance; and then he discovered Faery,” Beaconsfield told Lady Bradford, that, besides the Russian Government, "writes every day and telegraphs every besides the Liberals and Mr. Gladstone, hour; this is almost literally the case." there were two additional sources of peril. She raged loudly against the Russians. ous embarrassment with which he would "And the language," she cried, "the inhave to reckon. In the first place there was sulting language--used by the Russians a strong party in the Cabinet,, headed by against us! It makes the Queen's blood Lord Derby, the Foreign Secretary, which boil!" "Oh,” she wrote a little later, was unwilling to take the risk of war; “if the Queen were a man, she would like but his culminating anxiety was the Faery. to go and give those Russians, whose
From the first, her attitude was uncom- word one cannot believe, such a beating! promising. The old hatred of Russia, We shall never be friends again till we which had been engendered by the Cri- have it out. This the Queen feels sure mean War, surged up again within her; of." she remembered Albert's prolonged ani- The unfortunate Prime Minister, mosity; she felt the prickings of her own urged on to violence by Victoria on one greatness; and she Alung herself into the side, had to deal, on the other, with a turmoil with passionate heat. Her in- | Foreign Secretary who was fundamendignation with the Opposition with any- tally opposed to any policy of active interone who ventured to sympathize with the ference at all. Between the Queen and Russians in their quarrel with the Turks Lord Derby he held a harassed course. -was unbounded. When anti-Turkish He gained, indeed, some slight satisfacmeetings were held in London, presided tion in playing off the one against the over by the Duke of Westminster and other-in stimulating Lord Derby with Lord Shaftesbury, and attended by Mr. the Queen's missives, and in appeasing the Gladstone and other prominent Radicals, Queen by repudiating Lord Derby's opinshe considered that “the Attorney-Gen- | ions; on one occasion he actually went so eral ought to be set at these men"; "it far as to compose, at Victoria's request, a can't," she exclaimed, “be constitutional.” | letter bitterly attacking his colleague, Never in her life, not even in the crisis which Her Majesty forthwith signed, over the Ladies of the Bedchamber, 1
Bedchamber, and sent, without alteration, to the For
eign Secretary. But such devices only 1 Victoria had raised a constitutional question when she refused to change her Whig
gave a temporary relief; and it soon beLadies of the Bed Chamber after a Tory vic
evident that Victoria's martial tory in Parliament.
ardor was not to be side-tracked by hos
tilities against Lord Derby; hostilities could only,” he wrote, "face the scene against Russia were what she wanted, which would occur at headquarters if I what she would, what she must, have. resigned, I would do so at once.” For now, casting aside the last relics of He held on, however, to emerge vicmoderation, she began to attack her torious at last. The Queen was pacified; friend with a series of extraordinary Lord Derby was replaced by Lord Salisthreats. Not once, not twice, but many bury; and at the Congress of Berlin der times she held over his head the for- alte Judecarried all before him. He midable menace of her imminent abdica- returned to England in triumph, and astion. "If England," she wrote to Bea- sured the delighted Victoria that she consfield, “is to kiss Russia's feet, she will would very soon be, if she was not al
party to the humiliation of Eng- ready, the “Dictatress of Europe.”
would lay down her crown, and she added that the Prime Minister
At the General Election of 1880 might, if he thought fit, repeat her words the country, mistrustful of the forward to the Cabinet. "This delay," she ejacu- policy of the Conservatives, and carried lated, "this uncertainty by which, abroad, away by Mr. Gladstone's oratory, rewe are losing our prestige and our posi- turned the Liberals to power. Victoria tion, while Russia is advancing and will was horrified, but within a year she was be before Constantinople in no time! to be yet more nearly hit. The grand Then the Government will be fearfully romance had come to its conclusion. Lord blamed and the Queen so humiliated that Beaconsfield, worn out with age and she thinks she would abdicate at once. maladies, but moving still, an assiduous Be bold !" "She feels," she reiterated,
mummy, from dinner-party to dinner"she cannot, as she before said, remain the party, suddenly moved no longer. When Sovereign of a country that is letting it- she knew that the end was inevitable, she self down to kiss the feet of the great seemed, by a pathetic instinct, to divest barbarians, the retarders of all liberty and herself of her royalty, and to shrink, with civilization that exists.” When the Rus- hushed gentleness, beside him, a woman sians advanced to the outskirts of Con- and nothing more.
“I send some Osstantinople she fired off three letters in a borne primroses,” she wrote to him with day demanding war; and when she learnt touching simplicity, “and I meant to pay that the Cabinet had only decided to send you a little visit this week, but I thought the Fleet to Gallipoli she declared that it better you should be quite quiet and "her first impulse" was "to lay down the not speak. And I beg you will be very thorny crown, which she feels little sat- good and obey the doctors.” She would isfaction in retaining if the position of see him, she said, "when we come back this country is to remain as it is now.” from Osborne, which won't be long." It is easy to imagine the agitating effect “Everyone is so distressed at your not beof such a correspondence upon Beacons- ing well,” she added; and she was “Ever field. This was no longer the Faery; it yours very aff’ly, V. R. I.” When the was a genie whom he had rashly called royal letter was given him, the strange out of her bottle, and who was now in- old comedian, stretched on his bed of tent upon showing her supernal power. death, poised it in his hand, appeared to More than once, perplexed, dispirited, consider deeply, and then whispered to shattered by illness, he had thoughts of those about him, "This ought to be read withdrawing altogether from the game. to me by a Privy Councillor." One thing alone, he told Lady Bradford, with a wry smile, prevented him. “If I 1“The old Jew" (Disraeli).