urging the Prussians to march on Paris and take advantage of the absence of the French army. The Emperor of Austria preferred chopping off his power in Italy to recognizing Prussia as an equal, and Napoleon was not prepared to fight Prussia, as well as Austria. So the contestants laid down their arms, with mutual politeness, and the Peace of Villafranca was signed on July II. Napoleon returned to Paris. Nice and Savoy were to be his ultimate prizes, and he had the satisfaction of having made Italy "mistress of her own destinies." But also, he was no longer merely an adventurer. He had proved himself a great soldier; at least a soldier with prestige. As such he made Germany, Belgium, and Britain restless. He might turn his ambitions to the Rhineland, or menace his young neighbour, Belgium. The Pope had told Odo Russell, intermediary between the British government and the Vatican, that, in his opinion, Napoleon would invade England "sooner or later."
The British turned once more to their ancient dread. In her speech from the throne at the opening of Parliament, Queen Victoria asked for one million pounds to put the Navy under steam power. The volunteer movement spread so rapidly that in the following summer one hundred and thirty thousand had been enrolled. In August, Queen Victoria stood on a dais in Hyde Park while twenty-one thousand of them marched past.
The Queen's vitality grew upon challenge, but the Prince Consort's spirit dwindled more and more.
Within a few hours of the English coast was France, with half a million soldiers, the strongest steam fleet in the world, and an Emperor enjoying the dangerous, first taste of military victory. Five years before the Prince Consort would have turned to such a threat with eager ideas and memoranda. Now he lamented his failing health and energies. "I believe worry over political affairs . . . is chiefly to blame for it," he wrote. 3 He complained to his daughter of "this suffering and difficult world."
THE "political affairs" worrying the Prince included the crisis when Mr. Disraeli introduced his Reform Bill on February 28, urging for a franchise based on personal property. The debate that followed was