'If you are violent I have no other choice but to leave you.'
THE QUEEN'S HAPPINESS in her marriage was still on occasions darkly clouded by quarrels with her husband. No one doubted that she still adored him, that the tired-looking man, paunchy and pale though only thirty-two years old when the Great Exhibition closed, remained for her the paragon of beauty and goodness she had married. Yet she could fly into sudden rages with him, accuse him of all manner of faults and selfishness, of being indifferent to the distress and pain and disgusting degradation which she, as a woman, had to endure when bearing and giving birth to babies and which he, as a man, evaded.
Pregnancy followed pregnancy and with the pregnancies there came bouts of depression. Her 'poor nerves', so she had told King Leopold shortly before the arrival of Princess Alice in April 1843, 'were so battered last time' that she 'suffered a whole year' from it. Still, she had continued stoically, 'those nerves were incidental and I am otherwise so strong and well, that if only my happiness continues I can bear everything else with pleasure'. 1
An exceptionally violent altercation erupted soon after the birth of her fourth son and eighth child, Prince Leopold, on 7 April 1853. The birth itself had been rendered relatively easy by the presence of Dr John Snow, a Yorkshire farmer's son who had made a name for himself in London by his improvements in the methods of administering ether and chloroform as anaesthetizing agents. The Queen, who surprised medical opinion as expressed in the Lancet by agreeing to make use of