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Albert
Albert
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bad its own troubles from bad harvests and great commercial and financial depression. 'Here' the prince writes to Stockmar (27 Feb.), 'they refuse to pay the income tax, and attack the ministry ; Victoria will be confined in a few days' — Princess Louise was born 18 March following — 'our poor good grandmama is taken from this world. I am not cast down, still I have need of friends and of counsel.' Now the fruits of his past years of political study and reflection were apparent in the calm courage with which the prince met the startling events that were crowded into the next few months, and in which he was sustained by a similar spirit in the queen. 'My only thoughts and talk,' she writes to King Leopold (4 April) 'were politics ; but I was never calmer and quieter, or less nervous. Great events make me calm ; it is only trifles that irritate my nerves.'

While Italy, Austria, and Germany were convulsed with revolutionary outbreaks which followed on the example of France, England and Belgium remained unshaken. A threatened movement of the chartists on 19 April, in such numbers as to create anxiety, evoked a spirit amid the general population which showed how deeply attached the country was to its constitution. 'We,' the prince wrote next day, 'had our revolution yesterday, and it ended in smoke. How mightily will this tell over the world ! 'Ireland alone was dangerous. The Russell ministry had been compelled to adopt even more severe measures of coercion than those which their party had displaced Sir Robert Peel for attempting. England continued to suffer greatly from stagnation of trade and general financial depression, but the prince never lost heart. 'Albert,' the queen writes to King Leopold (2 May 1848), 'is my constant pride and admiration, and his cheerfulness and courage are my great comfort and satisfaction.'

On 18 May the prince presided at a meeting of the Society for improving the Condition of the Working Classes, and made the first of his many expressions of the sympathy and interest which he felt 'for that class of our community which has most of the toil and least of the enjoyments of this world.' His speech attracted great notice. Its main idea was, that while the rich were bound to help, yet that 'any real improvement must be the result of the exertion of the working people themselves.' The favourable impression thus produced was deepened by the appearance of the prince at a meeting of the Royal Agricultural Society at York in July, when he surprised those who knew most about agriculture and the machinery employed in it by showing that he was thorough master of the knowledge which their whole lives had been spent in acquiring. At this meeting, writes the queen to Stockmar, 'he made another moat successful speech, and he is himself quite astonished at being such an excellent speaker, as he says it is the last thing he ever dreamt he should have success in. He possesses one other great quality, which is "tact;" he never says a word too much or too little.'

The close of the session (5 Sept.), which had been unusually protracted, set the queen and prince free to go, for the first time, to Balmoral, a property in Aberdeenshire which the queen had recently acquired on the recommendation of Sir James Clark, the court physician, because of its fine air, dry climate and beautiful situation. Even in this secluded retreat the prince was absorbed in the tidings of fresh disturbances which reached him from all parts of Europe, as well as from India, where the war against the Sikhs was causing the English government great anxiety. He was much engaged, too, in maturing, in communication with many of the most distinguished and influential members of the Cambridge University, a plan for giving a wider scope to the course of study there, which was successfully carried through in the course of this autumn. 'The nation,' the 'Times' wrote, 'owed a debt of gratitude to the prince consort for having been the first to suggest, and the most determined to carry out, the alteration in the Cambridge system.' The example thus set was soon afterwards followed by Oxford.

While the countries of the Continent were still agitated by revolutionary movements, and by the reaction, due less to conviction than to overbearing military force, which followed upon the violence by which these had been marked, trade and manufacture in England had been gradually recovering, wages were rising, and the popular discontent of which the chartists had taken advantage was dying out. Ireland, too, had regained a temporary tranquillity. Sedition had for the time been crushed, and the people were doing their best to retrieve their losses from the ruined harvests and agitation of the last four years. The queen seized the opportunity to visit the country (August 1849), and her presence evoked an exuberant display of loyalty natural to the demonstrative temperament of the Celtic race. The prince was everywhere received with enthusiasm. He showed, as usual, the keenest interest in all local institutions, especially those for the improvement of agriculture. The peculiar aptitude of the country in soil and climate for the rearing of cattle was urged strongly by him as a certain source of future prosperity. His counsels were