Prime Minister John Major welcomed his defeated rivals into his Cabinet on Wednesday and called for a nation in which all may prosper according to ``their talent, their application and their good fortune.'

``I don't promise you that it will be easy, and I don't promise you that it will be quick,' Major said outside 10 Downing St. after being confirmed as prime minister by Queen Elizabeth II.``If you forgive me,' he added, ``I will go into No. 10 straight away and make a start right now.'

Major, who at 47 is the youngest prime minister this century, had displayed both talent and tenacity in overcoming childhood poverty and rising rapidly through the government.

It was his fortune to be the popular choice of a party torn by rebellion against his patron, Margaret Thatcher.

Hours after saying farewell to her, Major announced a new Cabinet lineup that reached across the bruised wings of the Conservative Party.

Michael Heseltine, the aggressor in a leadership race that toppled Thatcher, was appointed secretary of the environment - and Major thanked him for his contributions to party unity.

Chris Patten, the former environment secretary and a Tory liberal, was installed as chairman of the party.

The right-leaning former chairman, Kenneth Baker, who had spent the past two weeks sniping at Heseltine, was given the Cabinet post of home secretary.

Douglas Hurd, who ran third in the leadership race, was kept as foreign secretary and Tom King stayed as defense secretary, emphasizing the continuity of Britain's tough stance in the Persian Gulf crisis.

The government also announced Wednesday that it is resuming diplomatic relations with Syria, completing a rapprochement that began under Thatcher.

Major said he hopes to build on the achievements of his predecessor, who said in her own farewell speech that ``we leave the United Kingdom in a very much better state than when we came here 11 1/2 years ago.'

``Now it is time for a new chapter to open, and I wish John Major all the luck in the world,' said Thatcher, leaving 10 Downing Street for a home in suburban Dulwich.

Major is to take his first turn answering prime minister's questions in the House of Commons on Thursday, one week after he announced that he was a candidate for the job.

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