thinks and feels, invariably." She was disturbed by the Queen's panegyric of the French, but hoped that "dear Louis Napoleon" would live up to the Queen's faith in him and end "by putting a little sense" into his people.


{56}

1855

THE war progressed slowly, but there was enough confidence in ultimate victory for the Court to escape for the summer holiday in Scotland. The exciting new castle was finished; the tower rose above the solemn conifers, so like Prince Albert in their character. Within the castle he had wed his memories of German castles to his own taste and his love for Scotland. The carpets were of tartan to celebrate the Queen's descent from the Stuarts and her Jacobite sympathies. Even the linoleum in some of the rooms was tartan. Poplin and silk had been specially woven of Royal Stuart tartan, and some of the walls were lively with trophies of the chase. Again Lady Augusta Bruce made a cautious comment. She had been brought up in a Scottish house whither her father, Lord Elgin, had brought many handsome objects from Europe. She thought Prince Albert's taste "all highly characteristic and appropriate but not equally flatteux to the eye."

Queen Victoria was delighted by her husband's creation. Here, in the Highlands, she felt she was living as a woman and not merely as a Queen. She was so happy that her heart melted a little towards even Lord Palmerston. The old tyrant, so sourly described by Disraeli as "an imposter, utterly exhausted . . . an old painted pantaloon," had put a mute upon his rebellious nature. Lord Clarendon noted that Palmerston was "proud of having, as he thinks, overcome the repugnance of the Court." He had "put off the old man" and had become "a babe of grace."

The "babe of grace" was still full of fine spirit and he found a new focus for his anger in the slave traders of America and the casual manners of the diplomats across the water. He wrote, "If, however, they should push matters to extremities ... we have a deeply piercing Blow to strike at their Southern States if ever we should be at war with them. Freedom to the Slaves proclaimed by a British Force landed in the South would shake the Union to its Base." The appetite for

-140-

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