but was still seeking their influence in Europe in bis own interests in private letters to the queen, which he conjured her not to divulge in Do*wning Street or at the Tuileries. His pertinacity had grown so troublesome that, to 'avoid friction, she deemed it wisest to suppress his correspondence unanswered (Duke Ernest, vol. iii.) It was not surprising that, when the news of the betrothal leaked out, the public comments should be unpleasing to the court. The ' Times ' on 3 Oct. denounced it with heat as an act of truckling ' to a paltry German dynasty.'
In November, when the court was again at Windsor, the queen extended her acquaintance among great kings and statesmen by receiving a visit from her second ally in the Crimea, Victor Emanuel, king of Sardinia, and his minister, Count Cavour, and the affairs of one more country of Europe were pressed upon her attention. The king's brother, the Duke of Genoa, had been her guest in 1852, and she had presented him with a riding-horse in words that he interpreted to imply sympathy with the efforts of Cavour and his master to unite Italy under a single king, and to purge the separate states of native tyranny or foreign domination (ib. iii. 22-3). Victor Emanuel had come to Windsor in effect to seek confirmation of his brother's version of the queen's sentiment, and to test its practical value. He had just been at the Tuileries, where Napoleon was encouraging, while Palmerston, now prime minister, was known to sympathise with the Italian aspiration. It was not opportune at the moment for Palmerston to promise material aid ; while the prince, however deeply he deplored the misgovernment which it was sought to annul in Italy, deprecated any breach with Austria, which ruled in North Italy. He and the queen, moreover, dreaded the kindling of further war in Europe, in whatever cause. Victor Emanuel and Cavour therefore received from the queen cold comfort, but she paid the king every formal honour, despite his brusque and unrefined demeanour. He was invested with the garter on 5 Dec., and a great banquet was given him in St. George's Hall in the evening. When he departed the queen rose at four o'clock in the morning to bid him farewell.
Meanwhile peace was arranged in Paris with Russia, and the queen opened parliament on 31 Jan. 1856 amid great rejoicing. The peace, On 30 March the treaty was so March signed and the encroachment of Russia on Turkey was checked. Napoleon had shown much supineness in the negotiations and seemed to be developing a tendency to conciliate the common enemy, Russia. But the queen exchanged hearty congratulations with him, and on 11 April she celebrated the general harmony by conferring the knighthood of the garter on Palmerston, to whom she acknowledged, with some natural qualifications, the successful issue to be mainly due.
Henceforth the army, to a larger extent than before, was the queen's constant care. A visit to the military hospital at Chatham on 16 April was followed by a first visit to the newly formed camp at Aldershot. First visit to Aldershot, 1856. There the queen, for the first of many times, slept the night in the royal pavilion, and next day she reviewed eighteen thousand men. She was on horseback, and wore the uniform of a field-marshal with the star and riband of the garter. Shortly after she laid two foundation stones of a new military (the Royal Victoria) hospital at Netley (19 May), and of Wellington College, Sandhurst, for the sons of officers (2 June). Much of the summer she spent in welcoming troops on their return from the war. On 7 and 8 June the queen, accompanied by her guests, the king of the Belgians and Prince Oscar of Sweden, inspected a great body of them at Aldershot, and addressed to them stirring words of thanks and sympathy. Thoroughly identifying herself with the heroism of her soldiers The Victoria Cross. and sailors, she instituted a decoration for acts of conspicuous valour in war, to be known as the Victoria Cross (V.C.) ; the decoration carried with it a pension of 10l. a year. A list of the earliest recipients of the honour was soon drawn up, and the crosses were pinned by the queen herself on the breasts of sixty-two men at a great review in Hyde Park next year (26 June 1857).A melancholy incident had marked her visit to Aldershot on 8 June 1856. While the commander-in-chief, Lord Hardinge, was speaking to her he was seized by incurable paralysis, and had to vacate his post. An opportunity seemed thus presented to the queen of tightening the traditional bond between herself and the army, on which recent events had led her to set an enhanced value. Of no prerogative of the crown was the queen more tenacious than that which gave her a nominal control of the army through the commander-in-chief. It was a control that was in name independent of parliament, although that body claimed a concurrent authority over the military forces through the secretary of state for war. Parliament was in course of time, to the queen's dismay, to make its authority over the army