THE first day of May was the most glorious in Prince Albert's life for, at last, his exhibition was opened, a
"complete and wonderful triumph."Queen Victoria walked through bronze gates to her Chair of State, wearing pink watered silk, brocaded with silver and diamonds, and a headdress of feathers and diamonds. She was celebrating her husband's victory over an apathetic country which disliked foreigners, over a hardhearted society which thought him bourgeois, and over her own early wilfulness and pride.
The Queen and the Prince walked among the exhibits, holding the hands of their two elder children. They were the symbol of the crowd that followed them: Victorian and sober, eschewing the old excesses of their fathers and embracing the domestic virtues which were the estimable ornaments of their time. They passed under the palms, by the parade of marble statues and paused before the beautiful crystal fountain.
"God bless my dearest Albert. God bless my dearest country,"the Queen wrote afterwards. This was the emotion that quickened her heart as the magic of what he had done was revealed to her. The exhibition was born of the ideas of many and the industry of thousands, but the will that had made these one and alive was his. Six million people were to come to see what he had achieved. As the Queen and the Prince walked about the Palace, a Frenchman and a German in the crowd argued about British loyalty."It is a principle, "said the German."No, it is a passion,"said the Frenchman, and the German, who might have been Prince Albert's pupil, took out his notebook and wrote,"In England loyalty is a passion."
Day after day the Prince, the Queen, and their children went to see the exhibition. The Rajah of Travancore had sent an ivory throne; there were bedsteads in zebra wood, objects in terracotta, majolica, and lacquer; jewelled weapons from Madrid, Swiss cabinets, vases from Stoke-on-Trent, chairs made out of coal, India rubber from the United States, and Samuel Colt's revolver with a revolving chamber. Mr. Asher of New Orleans sent a machine for making ice through the agency of sulphuric acid; there was a model of the floating church which drifted among the ships on the Delaware. There was produce