recovered some of his young fire when the Queen told him that dry champagne was perhaps unwholesome. He assured her that "the united opinion of the whole College of Physicians and of Surgeons" would not persuade him to agree with her.
Christmas came and trees were ordered for the three children. The Prince wrote to his brother,
"It seems to me as if it was not long ago that we were enchanted at the sight of our trees and especially you, enjoying the beloved quince-bread. "But there was no joy in his letters. In August he had written that he was "exhausted from parties, inspections of docks, wharves, men of war, etc." In his Christmas letter to his brother he wrote,
"Yesterday I had my first fall, while hunting, and I fell into a ditch near the railway station at Slough. "8
PRINCE ALBERT'S father died in January of 1844 and Ernst became Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Prince Albert wrote to his brother1
"with a broken heart and bitter tears. ... How I should like to be with you and weep with you and see the beloved face once more, though it is cold! We no longer have any home. ... This is a break that you cannot feel in the same way. ... Poor subjects, be a father to them; the few who followed me here cannot stop their tears. ... Victoria weeps with me, for me and for all of you."
The old Duke's sins were forgotten under the ornaments of Victorian grief: black-edged paper, jet bracelets, and impenetrable crepe veils. The relics afterwards sent to Prince Albert gave him "great pleasure." He wrote,
"How often have I seen the fruit knife in his hand!"
Bereavement brought the Prince still closer to the Queen. He wrote,
"The relation in which we stand to one another leaves nothing to desire. It is a union of heart and soul and is therefore noble."
Prince Albert's duties were increased by his father's death for it was soon apparent that his brother had neither the character nor the mind to rule the little duchy wisely. In March, the Prince went to Coburg, alone, to give his brother advice. He had not been away from the Queen during the four years of their marriage and the letters he wrote to England, from his home, show warmth and gentleness,