ever she went. In July she gave a garden party and drove among her guests in a low victoria, in "the most broiling heat." Her reign was ending as it began, with the garden doors of Buckingham Palace open, and music and people in the rooms that had been silent so long. As the low victoria wove its way among the guests they noticed that the Queen was wearing spectacles, in public, for the first time.
But there was no peace; no lulling of international storms, or of personal grief, to soften the closing days. The Queen had to read of the Boxer rising in Pekin, of the welcome being given to Kruger in France and Holland, of mismanagement in the hospitals in South Africa, and of her grandson's growing navy. Then came news of the death of her son, Prince Alfred, in Coburg. Her thoughts went back to the duchy whence Prince Albert had come, sixty-five years before. The photograph of his head and shoulders, as he lay dead, was still over her bed; his evening clothes were put out each day. The morbid little ritual went on, after the morbidity had expired.
The death of her son in Coburg left the Queen only one deeply personal bond with Germany. The Empress Frederick was still there, pledged to loneliness and forced by circumstances to remain. She was dying of cancer, but the spirit that had made so many enemies remained fiery as ever. She read the attacks on England, and on her mother, in the German newspapers and became "so savage" that her "tolerance, philosophy and patience" were scattered to the winds.
News of Prince Alfred's death reached Windsor early in the morning of July 31.
"It is hard at eighty-one, "wrote the Queen.
"I was greatly upset, one sorrow, one trial, one anxiety following another. It is a horrible year, nothing but sadness and horrors of one kind and another. ... Felt terribly shaken and broken.... "6
ON NOVEMBER II, Queen Victoria passed through a "shocking night." No draught could give her sleep, and rheumatic pains, and cataract in her eyes, increased her misery. But she still plodded through the papers that came in the morning. The elections of October had strengthened the Conservative hold on the country, but Lord Salisbury also was old