of Princess Mary's
"sense and amiability"and of her being
"I have every hope,"she said,
"that the young couple will set an example of a steady quiet life, which, alas, is not the fashion in these days."Within a few weeks of the announcement, which pleased everybody, the Duke of Clarence died of pneumonia at Sandringham. Rancour faded once more, and the silent crowds that watched the coffin being carried, by the long way from Norfolk to St. George's Chapel, where the Prince was to have been married, forgot criticism and turned to respectful grief. Mr. Gladstone compared the public emotions to those that had stirred when Princess Charlotte died, and wrote of the
"remarkable evidence of national attachment to the Queen and the Royal family. "5
The gambling scandal was forgotten and when the Prince of Wales appeared in public with his family again, Prince George became a figure of especial interest. He was no longer merely a diligent sailor, with the wardroom for his kingdom. The Queen and the British people began to add up his virtues, which were many, and to watch the quiet growth of his character with satisfaction.
IN MAY 1892, Mr. Balfour reported1 to Queen Victoria that Mr. Gladstone had spoken in the House
"with a vigour and animation most remarkable in a man of eighty-two. "Six years of comparative happiness with Lord Salisbury in power had relegated Mr. Gladstone to the shadows of history, in the Queen's mind; but in 1892 a General Election was inevitable and Mr. Gladstone emerged again, as a reality. The splendour of his voice once more startled the electors into admiration, but the Queen was "shocked and ashamed," because of the "personal violence" and "insolent language" he used in his speeches.
Queen Victoria's first thought, if the Conservatives had to withdraw, was to ask Lord Rosebery to form a government. But Lord Rosebery had recently offended his Sovereign by attacking Lord Salisbury, in a speech at Edinburgh, thus making it "impossible" for her to send for him. The alternative seemed less possible, for Gladstone — the Grand Old Man — at eighty-two, was "a very alarming look-out. "