Chapter Three: Wars and Loss

Listen to the audio and read the text below – Victoria Times

Chapter Three: Wars and Loss

During the 1850s there were wars and revolts① in Europe and Asia. British soldiers fought in several of them. The most important was the Crimean War on the Black Sea. Russia wanted to expand its empire and perhaps block the Mediterranean and overland routes to India. So Britain and France decided to help Turkey fight Russia.

The Crimean War was the first war that was photographed. For the first time newspapers showed photographs of a war – a painful, tragic spectacle②. Victoria was very unhappy because the soldiers suffered. She sent them mittens and scarves, and visited the wounded③ soldiers in British hospitals. She wrote letters to the soldiers’ widows, Albert wrote hundreds of letters to Members of Parliament to ask thern to send more help to the soldiers. Victoria helped Florence Nightingale④ who went to Crimea with 38 nurses. She courageously set up a hospital for wounded soldiers and saved many lives. After the war Florence Nightingale opened the first school for nurses in London. This was the beginning of modern nursing and improved hygienic conditions in hospitals.

When the Crimean War ended in 1856 Victoria presented a special medal for courage to many soldiers. This medal was called the Victoria Cross and it was made of captured Russian cannon! At this time India was controlled by the British East India Company, a trading company set up in India. In 1857 there was a rebellion⑤ against the British who lived in India.

① revolts:叛乱。
② tragic spectacle:悲惨景象。
③ wounded:受伤的。
④ Florence Nightingale: 护士行业创始人。
⑤ rebellion:叛变。

It was called the Indian Mutiny①. Thousands of people were killed. After this rebellion India became part of the British Empire and was controlled by the British government.

Victoria was very healthy and was rarely ill. She did not like hot rooms and always kept windows open, even in winter!

Albert was usually cold and was not as healthy as Victoria. He worked too much and rarely rested. He was also worried about his son, the Prince of Wales. The Prince’s adventures② with women and gambling shocked Albert, who was very upright③. Albert became very tired and weak. In November 1861 he caught typhoid fever④, but he continued working until he died on 14 December. Victoria was devastated – it was the greatest agony⑤ of her life. She was lost without Albert. She was convinced that her son, the Prince of Wales, was responsible for Albert’s death. She did not permit the Prince of Wales to help her with government work.
Victoria visited Albert’s impressive tomb at Frogmore near Windsor regularly. She wanted everyone to remember him. The Albert Memorial and the Royal Albert Hall near the Kensington Gardens in London were built to honour her beloved husband.

In her sadness and misery Victoria became a recluse⑥. For thirteen years she refused to appear in public and go to Privy Council meetings. However, she continued studying government papers privately and never lost contact with her kingdom. She spent a lot of time at Balmoral Castle, far from London. A Scottish servant called John Brown became her loyal friend.

During this period Victoria and the monarchy became very unpopular, and some politicians wanted to abolish it and create a republic!

① mutiny: 兵变。
② adventures:刺激活动。
③ upright:正直的。
④ typhoid fever:伤寒病。
⑤ agony: 极大痛苦。
⑥ recluse:隐居者。

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