the four prisoners would be "cheerfully liberated" and delivered to the British Embassy.

The Prince Consort had died; too soon to know that his last enterprise in diplomacy had given the United States an opportunity for honourable retreat from a perilous situation, and probably saved the two powers from war.



ON the morning when the Prince Consort wrote the draft of the dispatch for Washington he still fought his illness1 and went to chapel. The Queen saw that he "looked very wretched and ill." But the word "duty" still haunted him and he "insisted on going through all the kneeling." The doctors came in the afternoon and were disappointed with his state. He went to family dinner at which he could not eat anything, but he was "able to talk ... and even tell stories." Princess Alice played for her father after dinner. Her spirit was ascending to strength during this time, preparing for the great support she was to give her mother in the months that followed. The Prince went to bed at half-past ten. When the Queen joined him an hour later, "he was shivering with cold, and could not sleep at all."

Next morning he rose, but he did not dress. He lay on a sofa and the Queen read to him. Sir James Clark reassured the Queen that it was only a "feverish sort of influenza," but Sir James had made a wrong diagnosis twenty-two years before. Dr. Jenner had to break the news to the Queen, that the Prince had typhoid fever; that he considered it dated from the day of the visit to Sandhurst.

The Queen's own resilience helped her to hope for the best. " What an awful trial is this," she wrote, "to be deprived for so long of my guide, my support, my all!" She added, "I cheered up, remembering how many people have fever."

On December 8, the Prince asked to be moved into a bigger room. He seemed to recover a little of his power and said, "I should like to hear a fine chorale played at a distance." A pianoforte was brought to the next room and Princess Alice played Ein' feste Burg ist unser Gott for her father. He listened, "looking upwards with such a sweet expression, and with tears in his eyes."


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Reign of Queen Victoria
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