for the doctors and consoled them for their failure. Everyone was thought of. Then she turned and found the Prince of Wales beside her. He threw himself into her arms and said his whole life would be devoted to her comfort and to an endeavour to diminish her grief.
Then her ministers came, among them Lord Palmerston, her old enemy, who had so often been unkind to the Prince. When he saw her, sitting on the sofa, fighting her agony, he "wept bitterly."
FIVE days after the Prince Consort died, the Queen was taken to Osborne, her quiet house in the Isle of Wight. She was tortured by what doctors of a later generation called a "nervous breakdown" and for some time her children, her ministers and her ladies watched her in alarm. They were afraid that she would lose her reason. "I could go mad from the desire and longing," she wrote to the Queen of Prussia. Eighteen months later, when she was threatened with a change of ministry, she harped on the theme of madness in an audience with Lord Clarendon. Lady Clarendon's diary recorded the strange scene in which the Queen said "she knew she would go mad" with the worry and that "three times at Balmoral she had thought she was going mad." Lady Clarendon wrote,1 "While talking of the state of her mind her eye and manner became excited, and Clarendon could see that any encouragement would put her into a highly nervous state. She tapped her forehead with her hand and said, 'My reason, my reason.' " With this alarming obsession added to her natural grief, it was wise that the Queen should be taken away from Windsor Castle, haunted, as it was, by the pathetic shade of her mad grandfather.
The gardens at Osborne were stark and dead, but all their associations were with peace and life. Each morning the Queen sat by a window, looking over the frosty earth to the wind-troubled stretches of the Solent. The scene outside held a mirror up to her own desolation. The little black-dressed figure, with what her younger children called her "sad-cap" on her head, was suddenly estranged from her people and from her family. "There is nobody to call me Victoria now," she cried. "The things of this life are of no interest to the Queen." No one was to intrude into that sombre isolation. Princess