THE Duke of Wellington's death in September 1852 had left the post of Commander-in-Chief vacant. Prince Albert told the Prime Minister, Lord Derby, that the Duke had expressed the wish that he should take it, but his reasons against doing so still held good, and Lord Hardinge was appointed. Lord Derby must have been relieved at this decision for assuredly there would have been furious opposition to the Prince's appointment, the more so because there were disturbances at hand which were presently to develop into war.

The trouble began, like most troubles during the next eighty years, in Eastern Europe. In the spring of 1853 Holy Russia felt herself obliged to take up the cause of her fellow Christians in Turkey. This became a favourite gam- -bit of Russia's when she wanted to annex desirable pieces of Turkey and by the autumn it had the intended result of causing Turkey to declare war on her. The Powers could not possibly stand by and watch this duel, for Turkey would be quite unable to resist the Russian armies, and be- -fore hostilities broke out, the British Mediterranean fleet was sent to the Bosphorus, but with orders not to enter the Black Sea unless Russia invaded Turkish territory*. On the Continent Napoleon III was eager to form an alliance with England and join her against Russia, but Lord Aberdeen was only doing his duty in wanting to explore every possible

Letters, I, ii, p. 453.


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Queen Victoria


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