THE ups and downs of politics in Britain during 1866-1867, were strangely different from the startling, consistent programme of Bismarck, who seemed to see the steps of his fortune before him clearly as the rungs of a ladder. The alliance with Austria for the expulsion of the Danes from Schleswig and Holstein had served its purpose. The next step was to rob the Austrians of the rights of conquest, to oust them from Holstein, which had been their prize. The immorality of the diplomacy through which Bismarck picked a quarrel with Austria set a new character for German political thought, which survived into our own time. To subdue Austria, Bismarck had also to subdue the German states that sympathized with her, and to enlist the support of Italy. The German states on the side of Austria included Hesse‐ Darmstadt, the new home of Princess Alice, and Hanover, ruled by Queen Victoria's blind cousin. Bavaria, Württemberg, and Baden, in the south, pledged their support to Austria and, in addition to Hanover, in the north, Saxony and Hesse-Cassel were also against Prussia. Although the Duke of Saxe-Coburg was opposed to Bismarck's " disastrous course," the Prince Consort's family remained neutral in the war that followed and lost neither their lands nor their power.
Queen Victoria had already registered her disdain for Bismarck's opinion when she allowed her daughter, Princess Helena, to marry Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein, after Bismarck had deprived him of his territories and his commission in the Prussian army. She had made a further demonstration when she went to Coburg, in August, 1865, to unveil a statue of the Prince Consort in the market place, summoning no fewer than twenty-four members of her family, mostly German, to "the most beautiful, touching and solemn ceremony" she "ever saw." For moral courage, Bismarck was not without a rival.
In March, 1866, the Crown Princess was so shocked by Bismarck's designs that she wrote to her mother of the
"wicked man"and his power over the King. Later she wrote,1
" ... the net is cleverly made, and the King, in spite of all his reluctance, gets more and more entangled in it without perceiving it...."In March, Queen Victoria was so alarmed by the anti-Prussian feeling in Britain that she asked the Queen of Prussia to abandon her plan to visit England. "The mood