loud that the Queen could hear it in the dining room. Those who were near the palace railings stared at the central window: the dark rectangle of glass and drawn curtains beyond which was the symbol of their Britishness. About half-past nine the curtains parted and the Queen appeared, a shadowy form peering down at them. Then someone in the room brought a light and held it near the Queen's head so that the people could see her. They cheered, and she stood perfectly still, until she was so tired she had to go back to her chair.


{155}

1900

ON FEBRUARY 19, Queen Victoria received James Dunn of the Dublin Fusiliers. He was a little bugler, only fourteen years of age, who had been wounded in the arm and chest at Colenso. The boy had swum the Tugela River and been helped back to camp by a soldier and a sailor. The Queen thought him "a nice-looking modest boy" and, as he had lost his bugle on the battlefield, she gave him "another with an inscription. "1

During the weeks that followed, a strange and touching thought began to form in the old Queen's mind. Eight days after she had given James Dunn his bugle, she telegraphed to Sir Redvers Buller,

"I have heard with the deepest concern of the heavy losses sustained by my brave Irish soldiers."
Two days later an Army order was published, which read,
"Her Majesty is pleased to order that in future, upon St. Patrick's Day, all ranks in her Majesty's Irish regiment shall wear, as a distinction, a sprig of shamrock in their headdress, to commemorate the gallantry of her Irish soldiers during the recent battles in South Africa."
As Lord Wolseley prophesied, the Queen's tribute had
"a magical effect upon that sentimental and imaginative race all over the world. "
2

Two days after she had made the gesture over the sprigs of shamrock, the Queen told the Duke of Connaught that there was "a possible idea" of her going to Ireland.3 A friend who talked to her about this time wrote afterwards that the Queen "desired almost passionately to be loved by the Irish. "4

Forty years had passed since Queen Victoria had been to Ireland, the nearest but least dear of her overseas possessions. There had been

-375-

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