On the 6th of August Parliament was prorogued by commission. The royal speech expressed Her Majesty's deep gratification at the spirit of devoted patriotism which animated her volunteer forces, and the admiration with which she had observed their rapid progress in discipline and military efficiency. Among the measures to which she had given her assent, were the Act for Improving the Laws relating to Bankruptcy and Insolvency; the Acts for Consolidating and Assimilating the Criminal Law of England and Ireland, and for Promoting the Revision of the Statute Law; the Act for the Improvement of Harbours on the coast of the United Kingdom, and for relieving Merchant Shipping from Passing Tolls; and many other measures of public usefulness, the results of the labours of the session.
The National Volunteer Association, to which allusion was made in the Queen's speech, was formed on the 16th of November, 1859. In May of the same year the formation of volunteer corps of riflemen had commenced, under the auspices of the Government; and by the end of the year many thousands were enrolled in all parts of Great Britain. The association enjoyed the patronage of the Queen and the Prince Consort. The Secretary of War, Mr. Sidney Herbert (afterwards Lord Herbert of Lea), was president; the Earl of Derby and several other noblemen being vice-presidents. On the 7th of March, 1860, 2,500 volunteer officers were presented to the Queen; after which they dined together, the Duke of Cambridge occupying the chair. On the 23rd of June following, there was a grand review in Hyde Park, when 18,450 volunteers defiled before the Queen in admirable order. A great national rifle shooting match was held at Wimbledon, from the 2nd to the 7th of July, when Captain Edward Ross obtained the Queen's prize of £250, and the gold medal of the association. Again, on the 7th of August, the Queen reviewed 20,000 volunteers at Edinburgh. In the beginning of 1861, the association had an annual income of £1,500, with a capital of £3,000; the volunteers in Great Britain then numbering at least 160,000. The sudden rise of this vast volunteer army, composed of the finest men in the world, was the answer which Great Britain gave to the threats of French invasion.