surged into Westminster with a clear majority of over five hundred. "The emphatic verdict of the Nation," was now Mr. Disraeli's pleasure, and on February 17, 1874, Mr. Gladstone set out for Windsor, carrying a copy of Thomas à Kempis for reading in the train. He drove up the hill and into the great quadrangle of the castle, where so many ministers had arrived, through the centuries. The Queen received him kindly, but there was little tenderness and less commiseration as he said he wished Parliament to dissolve at once. The Queen's suggestion of an honour only deepened his gloom.

"Oh! Nothing!"
he said. He could not accept any honour "in the face of such condemnation from the country."

When Mr. Gladstone left, Princess Beatrice wrote down her mother's notion of why the Prime Minister had failed.

"I could, of course, not tell him that it was greatly owing to his own unpopularity. "
3

Next day Mr. Disraeli came and immediately Windsor smiled again. Not more than a dozen sentences were exchanged with her new Prime Minister before the Queen thought something "amusingly said." He gave her back the self-confidence which always wilted when Mr. Gladstone was in the room. In her journal 4 she recalled that Disraeli " repeatedly said" that whatever she wished "SHOULD be done, whatever his difficulties might be...."

The capitals and italics in her journal increased, as if they were a sign of her release from gloom into light. In April, Disraeli showed how truly he understood his mistress, how skillful he was in awakening her fullest sense of power. He wrote 5 that "it may be unconstitutional for a Minister to seek advice from his Sovereign instead of proffering it" and that his excuse for this lapse was her "unrivalled experience of public life." All was true to the promise he had made two months before when he bowed before her and whispered, with his deep, beautiful voice, "I plight my troth to the kindest of Mistresses."


{104}

1874

MR. GLADSTONE said farewell to his room at No. 10 Downing Street, sold his London house, his china, and his Wedgwood ware, and retired to the country. All that he wished now was to spend the remainder

-266-

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Reign of Queen Victoria
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Reign of Queen Victoria *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Illustrations *
  • Foreword *
  • {1} i
  • {2} 2
  • {3} 4
  • {4} 10
  • {5} 11
  • {6} 14
  • {7} 17
  • {8} 21
  • {9} 23
  • {10} 25
  • {11} 29
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  • {13} 32
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  • {15} 37
  • {16} 39
  • {17} 42
  • {18} 44
  • {19} 49
  • {20} 53
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  • {22} 55
  • {23} 57
  • {24} 60
  • {25} 63
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  • {27} 67
  • {28} 70
  • {29} 76
  • {30} 79
  • {31} 80
  • {32} 84
  • {33} 87
  • {34} 91
  • {35} 93
  • {36} 103
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  • {40} 111
  • {41} 115
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  • {54} 136
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  • {56} 140
  • {57} 141
  • {58} 144
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  • {61} 149
  • {62} 151
  • {63} 153
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  • {66} 158
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  • {70} 168
  • {71} 169
  • {72} 172
  • {73} 172
  • {74} 176
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  • {76} 180
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  • {86} 213
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  • {104} 266
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  • {123} 310
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  • {138} 338
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  • {145} 352
  • {146} 353
  • {147} 356
  • {148} 358
  • {149} 360
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  • {151} 363
  • {152} 366
  • {153} 369
  • {154} 372
  • {155} 375
  • {156} 377
  • {157} 379
  • Sources and References 383
  • Bibliography 405
  • {Index} 407
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