ness of the defences of the country, for the lessons of 1848 and the warning of the Duke of Wellington had been forgotten. In this, as in other services, Prince Albert avoided the limelight, in spite of Greville's gibe that he was "full of ambition." He had twice refused supreme command of the Army. In 1850 he had written to the Duke of Wellington, "I feel sure that, having undertaken the responsibility, I should not be satisfied to leave the business and real work in the hands of another." But he was willing to work where he did not lead.
Fear of France made Prince Albert turn once more to the records of the defences of Britain. He was appalled by what he found. He wrote to Lord John Russell, "This is the third time during the Queen's reign that an apprehension of war and consequent panic about invasion have seized the public mind of this country." He put a match to a lively rocket when he urged the Prime Minister to send him statements "showing the whole of our means at present available, both naval and military." The Queen wrote to King Leopold, "Albert grows daily fonder and fonder of politics and business." She added, "I grow to dislike them both more and more."
A force of volunteers was formed. When a Militia Bill was laid before the House of Commons, Lord John Russell's ministry was defeated, on February 20, and the Prime Minister resigned. Lord Stanley came into power with "a very sorry Cabinet, "1 which did not include Lord Palmerston. The cabinet was "sorry" except for the rise of Benjamin Disraeli who became Chancellor of the Exchequer and nearer the Queen he was to serve so brilliantly in her widowhood. Prince Albert wrote a dejected letter to his brother, "Here an unable Ministry is dragging on its existence and it is giving up the principle that gave it its life — 'Protection.' ... The Opposition is totally disorganised. Lord John Russell has lost all power over his party. Lord Palmerston is independent and will probably go with the Protectionists." Yet he thought "prosperity in the country unusually great" and the "lower classes" "very well off. "2
THERE was a brief rest at Osborne, for the Queen's birthday, and the Prince was able to plan new gardens. "The lime-blossoms and oranges remind me terribly of Gotha," he wrote. In the evening he read the