The Crimean War brought new experiences, and most of them were pleasant ones. It was pleasant to be patriotic and pugnacious, to look out appropriate prayers to be read in the churches, to have news of glorious victories, and to know oneself, more proudly than ever, the representative of England. With that spontaneity of feeling which was so peculiarly her own, Victoria poured out her emotion, her admiration, her pity, her love, upon her “dear soldiers.” When she gave them their medals her exultation knew no bounds. “Noble fellows!” she wrote to the King of the Belgians, “I own I feel as if these were my own children; my heart beats for them as for my nearest and dearest. They were so touched, so pleased; many, I hear, cried—and they won’t hear of giving up their medals to have their names engraved upon them for fear they should not receive the identical one put into their hands by me, which is quite touching. Several came by in a sadly mutilated state.” She and they were at one. They felt that she had done them a splendid honour, and she, with perfect genuineness, shared their feeling. Albert’s attitude towards such things was different; there was an austerity in him which quite prohibited the expansions of emotion. When General Williams returned from the heroic defence of Kars and was presented at Court, the quick, stiff, distant bow with which the Prince received him struck like ice upon the beholders. He was a stranger still.
But he had other things to occupy him, more important, surely, than the personal impressions of military officers and people who went to Court. He was at work—ceaselessly at work—on the tremendous task of carrying through the war to a successful conclusion. State papers, despatches, memoranda, poured from him in an overwhelming stream. Between 1853 and 1857 fifty folio volumes were filled with the comments of his pen upon the Eastern question. Nothing would induce him to stop. Weary ministers staggered under the load of his advice; but his advice continued, piling itself up over their writing-tables, and flowing out upon them from red box after red box. Nor was it advice to be ignored. The talent for administration which had reorganised the royal palaces