'I must tell you, most confidentially, that it requires no little management to prevent her breaking down altogether.'
'DEAREST PAPA. . . is not well, with a cold [and] neuralgia -- a great depression,' the Queen confirmed to their daughter, 'The sad part is -- that this loss of rest at night (worse than he has ever had before) was caused by a great sorrow and worry, which upset us both greatly -- but him especially -- and it broke him quite down. I never saw him so low.'1
Soon after the Prince Consort's return from Madingley there arrived at Windsor the draft of despatches which caused him grave concern. A British mail steamer had been stopped by an American warship off the coast of the United States where the first shots of the Civil War had been fired at Charleston earlier that year, in April 1861. On this ship were two Confederate envoys representing the southern states which had seceded from the Union. These envoys, who were on their way to Europe, were seized and taken to New York, much to the indignation of the British people. The British Government proposed to seek reparation for this breach of international law in words so provocative that the Prince considered that they might well lead to war between Britain and the northern States. Ill as he was, the Prince got up at seven o'clock as usual after a restless night to write a memorandum for the Queen suggesting that a less truculent despatch be sent so that the Americans might be given an opportunity to release 'the unfortunate passengers' without loss of face. The Cabinet accepted the Queen's amendments as suggested by the Prince and war was averted. On her copy of the document the Queen later noted