IN MAY, Queen Victoria celebrated her birthday at Osborne. She wrote to Princess Augusta, "Where could I point to another woman who after 20 years of such marital felicity still possesses it? My dearly‐ beloved Albert shows me not only as much affection and kindness as ever, but as much love and tenderness as on the first day of our marriage. How can I ever repay him for it? "1
The weather had been beautiful and nightingales sang "all round the house." There was music on the terrace and in the evening " dancing and merriment, just like nine years ago. " The Queen added, "Dear Mama was able to join in everything."
Her own healthy vigour and resilience often made it impossible for the Queen to comprehend sickness of heart in others. She might have been perplexed when, in later years, she read a letter her husband wrote to his daughter at this time, full of complaint because he was "tortured" by pain and work. From his window he could see the lilacs, the peonies, and the flowering thorn. Before he began the letter he walked over to the ruins of Carisbrooke Castle where a donkey was employed in a treadmill, to lift buckets of water from the ancient well. The Prince wrote to his daughter, "The donkey in Carisbrooke ... is my true counterpart. He, too, would rather munch thistles in the castle moat . . . small are the thanks he gets for his labour. " 2
THE year 1860 saw the beginning of a change in Queen Victoria's interests, in the trends of sympathy in British policy, and in relationships with other countries. Since the American War of Independence, Britain had turned against colonial enterprise and had planned the greater part of her existence in relation to her European neighbours. India seemed the only part of her possessions that concerned her statesmen.
Up to 1860 Britons were not greatly interested in life across the