Memoirs of Sir Henry Keppel – 1866 – The China Command
…His distinguished services now entitled him to a new command, and on December 14 he was rejoiced at receiving the following letter from the Prince of Wales:
Oakley Park, Scole, Norfolk: December 12, .
My dear Sir Henry,
I am glad to be able to tell you that I received a letter from Sir John Pakington this morning, announcing his intention of offering you, with the Queen’s approval, the China command, as Admiral King is going to give up, and I am only too happy if I have in any small way been the means of getting Sir John to give you this command.
Both he and the whole Admiralty are very well disposed towards you, and I am sure that you will do all in your power to show them that you are anxious to distinguish yourself during this command, as you always have done on previous occasions.
‘Believe me, yours very sincerely,
God bless the Prince of Wales!’ said he. And now ended his five years of enforced idleness, with an estrangement from professional duties, which he loved, and from the sea which was his natural home. But he had a month to spare, in which he was again invited to Sandringham and Holkham, where the happy associations of his boyhood were renewed.
Before he started to take up his command he was summoned to Windsor, and had an interview with Queen Victoria, who received him, as he relates,’ with one of her pleasantest smiles.
‘Then he was off again to China. On his way through Egypt he found an old Crimean friend, who took him to visit the works of the Suez Canal, then in progress under M. de Lesseps; of the success of which he formed a high opinion, though in England it was much doubted, and Lord Palmerston ridiculed the idea of its completion.
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