E-text prepared by Roy Brown
GREAT BRITAIN AND HER QUEEN
ANNE E. KEELING
Author of "General Gordon: Hero and Saint," "The Oakhurst Chronicles," "Andrew Golding," etc.
Second Edition. Revised and Enlarged, 1897
CHAPTER I. THE GIRL QUEEN AND HER KINGDOM
CHAPTER II. STORM AND SUNSHINE
CHAPTER III. FRANCE AND ENGLAND
CHAPTER IV. THE CRIMEAN WAR
CHAPTER V. INDIA
CHAPTER VI. THE BEGINNINGS OF SORROWS
CHAPTER VII. CHANGES GOOD AND EVIL
CHAPTER VIII. OUR COLONIES
CHAPTER IX. INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL PROGRESS
CHAPTER X. PROGRESS OF THE EMPIRE FROM 1887 TO 1897
CHAPTER XI. PROGRESS OF WESLEYAN METHODISM UNDER QUEEN VICTORIA, 1837-1897
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
Queen Victoria Claremont The Coronation of Queen Victoria Kensington Palace Duchess of Kent Elizabeth Fry Rowland Hill Father Mathew George Stephenson Wheatstone St. James's Palace Prince Albert The Queen in Her Wedding-Dress Sir Robert Peel Daniel O'Connell Richard Cobden John Bright Lord John Russell Thomas Chalmers John Henry Newmann Balmoral Buckingham Palace Napoleon III The Crystal Palace, 1851 Lord Ashley Earl of Derby Duke of Wellington Florence Nightingale Lord Canning Sir Colin Campbell Henry Havelock Sir John Lawrence Windsor Castle Prince Frederick William Princess Royal Charles Kingsley Lord Palmerston Abraham Lincoln and his son Princess Alice The Mausoleum Dr. Norman Macleod Prince of Wales Princess of Wales Osborne House Sir Robert Napier Mr. Gladstone Lord Beaconsfield Lord Salisbury General Gordon Duke of Albany Duchess of Albany Sydney Heads Robert Southey William Wordsworth Alfred Tennyson Robert Browning Charles Dickens W. M. Thackeray Charlotte Bronte Lord Macaulay Thomas Carlyle William Whewell, D.D. Sir David Brewster Sir James Y. Simpson Michael Faraday David Livingstone Sir John Franklin John Ruskin Dean Stanley "I was sick, and ye visited me" Duke of Connaught The Imperial Institute Duke of Clarence Duke of York Duchess of York Princess Henry of Battenberg Prince Henry of Battenberg The Czarina of Russia H. M. Stanley Dr. Fridtjof Nansen Miss Kingsley J. M. Barrie Richard Jefferies Rev. J. G. Wood Dean Church Professor Huxley Professor Tyndall C. H. Spurgeon Dr. Horatius Bonar Sir J. E. Millais, P.R.A. Sir Frederick Leighton, P.R.A. Wesley preaching on his father's tomb Group of Presidents:—No. 1 Centenary Meeting at Manchester Key to Centenary Meeting Wesleyan Centenary Hall Group of Presidents:—No. 2 Sir Francis Lycett The Methodist Settlement, Bermondsey. London, S.E. Theological Institution, Richmond Theological Institution, Didsbury Theological Institution, Headingley Theological Institution, Handsworth Kingswood School, Bath The North House, Leys School, Cambridge Queen's College, Taunton Wesley College, Sheffield Children's Home, Bolton Westminster Training College and Schools Group of Presidents:—No. 3
GREAT BRITAIN AND HER QUEEN.
THE GIRL-QUEEN AND HER KINGDOM.
Rather more than one mortal lifetime, as we average life in these later days, has elapsed since that June morning of 1837, when Victoria of England, then a fair young princess of eighteen, was roused from her tranquil sleep in the old palace at Kensington, and bidden to rise and meet the Primate, and his dignified associates the Lord Chamberlain and the royal physician, who "were come on business of state to the Queen"—words of startling import, for they meant that, while the royal maiden lay sleeping, the aged King, whose heiress she was, had passed into the deeper sleep of death. It is already an often-told story how promptly, on receiving that summons, the young Queen rose and came to meet her first homagers, standing before them in hastily assumed wrappings, her hair hanging loosely, her feet in slippers, but in all her hearing such royally firm composure as deeply impressed those heralds of her greatness, who noticed at the same moment that her eyes were full of tears. This little scene is not only charming and touching, it is very significant, suggesting a combination of such qualities as are not always found united: sovereign good sense and readiness, blending with quick, artless feeling that sought no disguise—such feeling as again betrayed itself when on her ensuing proclamation the new Sovereign had to meet her people face to face, and stood before them at her palace window, composed but sad, the tears running unchecked down her fair pale face.
That rare spectacle of simple human emotion, at a time when a selfish or thoughtless spirit would have leaped in exultation, touched the heart of England deeply, and was rightly held of happy omen. The nation's feeling is aptly expressed in the glowing verse of Mrs. Browning, praying Heaven's blessing on the "weeping Queen," and prophesying for her the love, happiness, and honour which have been hers in no stinted measure. "Thou shalt be well beloved," said the poetess; there are very few sovereigns of whom it could be so truly said that they have been well beloved, for not many have so well deserved it. The faith of the singer has been amply justified, as time has made manifest the rarer qualities joyfully divined in those early days in the royal child, the single darling hope of the nation.
Once before in the recent annals of our land had expectations and desires equally ardent centred themselves on one young head. Much of the loyal devotion which had been alienated from the immediate family of George III. had transferred itself to his grandchild, the Princess Charlotte, sole offspring of the unhappy marriage between George, Prince of Wales, and Caroline of Brunswick. The people had watched with vivid interest the young romance of Princess Charlotte's happy marriage, and had bitterly lamented her too early death—an event which had overshadowed all English hearts with forebodings of disaster. Since that dark day a little of the old attachment of England to its sovereigns had revived for the frank-mannered sailor and "patriot king," William IV; but the hopes crushed by the death of the much-regretted Charlotte had renewed themselves with even better warrant for Victoria. She was the child of no ill-omened, miserable marriage, but of a fitting union; her parents had been sundered only by death, not by wretched domestic dissensions. People heard that the mortal malady which deprived her of a father had been brought about by the Duke of Kent's simple delight in his baby princess, which kept him playing with the child when he should have been changing his wet outdoor garb; and they found something touching and tender in the tragic little circumstance. And everything that could be noticed of the manner in which the bereaved duchess was training up her precious charge spoke well for the mother's wisdom and affection, and for the future of the daughter.
It was indeed a happy day for England when Edward, Duke of Kent, the fourth son of George III, was wedded to Victoria of Saxe-Coburg, the widowed Princess of Leiningen—happy, not only because of the admirable skill with which that lady conducted her illustrious child's education, and because of the pure, upright principles, the frank, noble character, which she transmitted to that child, but because the family connection established through that marriage was to be yet further serviceable to the interests of our realm. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg was second son of the Duchess of Kent's eldest brother, and thus first cousin of the Princess Victoria—"the Mayflower," as, in fond allusion to the month of her birth, her mother's kinsfolk loved to call her: and it has been made plain that dreams of a possible union between the two young cousins, very nearly of an age, were early cherished by the elders who loved and admired both.
The Princess's life, however, was sedulously guarded from all disturbing influences. She grew up in healthy simplicity and seclusion; she was not apprised of her nearness to the throne till she was twelve years old; she had been little at Court, little in sight, but had been made familiar with her own land and its history, having received the higher education so essential to her great position; while simple truth and rigid honesty were the very atmosphere of her existence. From such a training much might be hoped; but even those who knew most and hoped most were not quite prepared for the strong individual character and power of self-determination that revealed themselves in the girlish being so suddenly transferred "from the nursery to the throne." It was quickly noticed that the part of Queen and mistress seemed native to her, and that she filled it with not more grace than propriety. "She always strikes me as possessed of singular penetration, firmness, and independence," wrote Dr. Norman Macleod in 1860; acute observers in 1837 took note of the same traits, rarer far in youth than in full maturity, and closely connected with the "reasoning, searching" quality of her mind, "anxious to get at the root and reality of things, and abhorring all shams, whether in word or deed." [Footnote]
[Footnote: "Life of Norman Macleod, D.D." vol. ii.]
It was well for England that its young Sovereign could exemplify virile strength as well as womanly sweetness; for it was indeed a cloudy and dark day when she was called to her post of lonely grandeur and hard responsibility; and to fill that post rightly would have overtasked and overwhelmed a feebler nature. It is true that the peace of Europe, won at Waterloo, was still unbroken. But already, within our borders and without them, there were the signs of coming storm. The condition of Ireland was chronically bad; the condition of England was full of danger; on the Continent a new period of earth-shaking revolution announced itself not doubtfully.
It would be hardly possible to exaggerate the wretched state of the sister isle, where fires of recent hate were still smouldering, and where the poor inhabitants, guilty and guiltless, were daily living on the verge of famine, over which they were soon to be driven. Their ill condition much aggravated by the intemperate habits to which despairing men so easily fall a prey. The expenditure of Ireland on proof spirits alone had in the year 1829 attained the sum of L6,000,000.
In England many agricultural labourers were earning starvation wages, were living on bad and scanty food, and were housed so wretchedly that they might envy the hounds their dry and clean kennels. A dark symptom of their hungry discontent had shown itself in the strange crime of rick-burning, which went on under cloud of night season after season, despite the utmost precautions which the luckless farmers could adopt. The perpetrators were not dimly guessed to be half-famished creatures, taking a mad revenge for their wretchedness by destroying the tantalising stores of grain, too costly for their consumption; the price of wheat in the early years of Her Majesty's reign and for some time previously being very high, and reaching at one moment (1847) the extraordinary figure of a hundred and two shillings per quarter.
There was threatening distress, too, in some parts of the manufacturing districts; in others a tolerably high level of wages indicated prosperity. But even in the more favoured districts there was needless suffering. The hours of work, unrestricted by law, were cruelly long; nor did there exist any restriction as to the employment of operatives of very tender years. "The cry of the children" was rising up to heaven, not from the factory only, but from the underground darkness of the mine, where a system of pitiless infant slavery prevailed, side by side with the employment of women as beasts of burden, "in an atmosphere of filth and profligacy." The condition of too many toilers was rendered more hopeless by the thriftless follies born of ignorance. The educational provision made by the piety of former ages was no longer adequate to the needs of the ever-growing nation; and all the voluntary efforts made by clergy and laity, by Churchmen and Dissenters, did not fill up the deficiency—a fact which had only just begun to meet with State recognition. It was in 1834 that Government first obtained from Parliament the grant of a small sum in aid of education. Under a defective system of poor-relief, recently reformed, an immense mass of idle pauperism had come into being; it still remained to be seen if a new Poor Law could do away with the mischief created by the old one.
Looking at the earliest years of Her Majesty's rule, the first impulse is to exclaim:
"And all this trouble did not pass, but grew."
It seemed as if poverty became ever more direful, and dissatisfaction more importunate. A succession of unfavourable seasons and failing crops produced extraordinary distress; and the distress in its turn was fruitful first of deepened discontent, and then of political disturbances. The working classes had looked for immediate relief from their burdens when the Reform Bill should be carried, and had striven hard to insure its success: it had been carried triumphantly in 1832, but no perceptible improvement in their lot had yet resulted; and a resentful feeling of disappointment and of being victims of deception now added bitterness to their blind sense of misery and injury, and greatly exasperated the political agitation of the ten stormy years that followed.
No position could well be more trying than that of the inexperienced girl who, in the first bloom of youth, was called to rule the land in this wild transitional period. Her royal courage and gracious tact, her transparent truthfulness, her high sense of duty, and her precocious discretion served her well; but these young excellences could not have produced their full effect had she not found in her first Prime Minister a faithful friend and servant, whose loyal and chivalrous devotion at once conciliated her regard, and who only used the influence thus won to impress on his Sovereign's mind "sound maxims of constitutional government, and truths of every description which it behoved her to learn." The records of the time show plainly that Lord Melbourne, the eccentric head of William IV's last Whig Administration, was not generally credited with either the will or the ability to play so lofty a part. His affectation of a lazy, trifling, indifferent manner, his often-quoted remonstrance to impetuous would-be reformers, "Can't you let it alone?" had earned for him some angry disapproval, and caused him to be regarded as the embodiment of the detested laissez-faire principle. But under his mask of nonchalance he hid some noble qualities, which at this juncture served Queen and country well.
Considered as a frivolous, selfish courtier by too many of the suffering poor and of their friends, he was in truth "acting in all things an affectionate, conscientious, and patriotic part" towards his Sovereign, "endeavouring to make her happy as a woman and popular as a Queen," [Footnote] telling her uncourtly truths with a blunt honesty that did not displease her, and watching over her with a paternal tenderness which she repaid with frank, noble confidence. He was faithful in a great and difficult trust; let his memory have due honour.
[Footnote: C. C. F. Greville: "A Journal of the Reign of Queen Victoria."]
Under Melbourne's pilotage the first months of the new reign went by with some serenity, though the political horizon remained threatening enough, and the temper of the nation appeared sullen. "The people of England seem inclined to hurrah no more," wrote Greville of one of the Queen's earliest public appearances, when "not a hat was raised nor a voice heard" among the coldly curious crowd of spectators. But the splendid show of her coronation a half-year later awakened great enthusiasm—enthusiasm most natural and inevitable. It was youth and grace and goodness, all the freshness and the infinite promise of spring, that wore the crimson and the ermine and the gold, that sat enthroned amid the ancient glories of the Abbey to receive the homage of all that was venerable and all that was great in a mighty kingdom, and that bowed in meek devotion to receive the solemn consecrating blessing of the Primate, according to the holy custom followed in England for a thousand years, with little or no variation since the time when Dunstan framed the Order of Coronation, closely following the model of the Communion Service. Some other features special to this coronation heightened the national delight in it. Its arrangements evidently had for their chief aim to interest and to gratify the people. Instead of the banquet in Westminster Hall, which could have been seen only by the privileged and the wealthy, a grand procession through London was arranged, including all the foreign ambassadors, and proceeding from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey by a route two or three miles in length, so that the largest possible number of spectators might enjoy the magnificent pageant. And the overflowing multitudes whose dense masses lined the whole long way, and in whose tumultuous cheering pealing bells and sounding trumpets and thundering cannon were almost unheard as the young Queen passed through the shouting ranks, formed themselves the most impressive spectacle to the half-hostile foreign witnesses, who owned that the sight of these rejoicing thousands of freemen was grand indeed, and impossible save in that England which, then as now, was not greatly loved by its rivals. An element which appealed powerfully to the national pride and the national generosity was supplied by the presence of the Duke of Wellington and of Marshal Soult, his old antagonist, who appeared as French ambassador. Soult, as he advanced with the air of a veteran warrior, was followed by murmurs of admiring applause, which swelled into more than murmurs for the hero of Waterloo bending in homage to his Sovereign. A touch of sweet humanity was added to the imposing scene within the Abbey through what might have been a painful accident. Lord Rolle, a peer between seventy and eighty years of age, stumbling and falling as he climbed the steps of the throne, the Queen impulsively moved as if to aid him; and when the old man, undismayed, persisted in carrying out his act of homage, she asked quickly, "May I not get up and meet him?" and descended one or two steps to save him the ascent. The ready natural kindliness of the royal action awoke ecstatic applause, which could hardly have been heartier had the applauders known how true a type that act supplied of Her Majesty's future conduct. She has never feared to peril her dignity by descending a step or two from her throne, when "sweet mercy, nobility's true badge," has seemed to require such a descent. And her queenly dignity has never been thereby lessened. "She never ceases to be a Queen," says Greville a propos of this scene, "and is always the most charming, cheerful, obliging, unaffected Queen in the world."
That "the people" were more considered in the arrangements for this coronation than they had been on any previous occasion of the sort was a circumstance quite in harmony with certain other signs of the times. "The night is darkest before the dawn," and amid all the gloom which enshrouded the land there could be discerned the stir and movement that herald the coming of the day. Men's minds were turning more and more to the healing of the world's wounds. Already one great humane enterprise had been carried through in the emancipation of the slaves in British Colonies; already the vast work of prison reform had been well begun, through the saintly Elizabeth Fry, whose life of faithful service ended ere the Queen had reigned eight years. The very year of Her Majesty's accession was signalised by two noteworthy endeavours to put away wrong. We will turn first to that which seems the least immediately philanthropic, although the injustice which it remedied was trivial in appearance only, since in its everyday triviality it weighed most heavily on the most numerous class—that of the humble and the poor.
How would the Englishman of to-day endure the former exactions of the Post Office? The family letters of sixty years ago, written on the largest sheets purchasable, crossed and crammed to the point of illegibility, filled with the news of many and many a week, still witness of the time when "a letter from London to Brighton cost eightpence, to Aberdeen one and threepence-halfpenny, to Belfast one and fourpence"; when, "if the letter were written on more than one sheet, it came under the operation of a higher scale of charges," and when the privilege of franking letters, enjoyed and very largely exercised by members of Parliament and members of the Government, had the peculiar effect of throwing the cost of the mail service exactly on that part of the community which was least able to bear it. The result of the injustice was as demoralising as might have been expected. The poorer people who desired to have tidings of distant friend or relative were driven by the prohibitory rates of postage into all sorts of curious, not quite honest devices, to gratify their natural desire without being too heavily taxed for it. A brother and sister, for instance, unable to afford themselves the costly luxury of regular correspondence, would obtain assurance of each other's well-being by transmission through the post at stated intervals of blank papers duly sealed and addressed: the arrival of the postman with a missive of this kind announced to the recipient that all was well with the sender, so the unpaid "letter" was cheerfully left on the messenger's hands. Such an incident, coming under the notice of Mr. Rowland Hill, impressed him with a sense of hardship and wrong in the system that bore these fruits; and he set himself with strenuous patience to remedy the wrong and the hardship. His scheme of reform was worked out and laid before the public early in 1837; in the third year of Her Majesty's reign it was first adopted in its entirety, with what immense profit to the Government we may partly see when we contrast the seventy-six or seventy-seven millions of paid letters delivered in the United Kingdom during the last year of the heavy postage with the number exceeding a thousand millions, and still increasing—delivered yearly during the last decade; while the population has not doubled. That the Queen's own letters carried postage under the new regime was a fact almost us highly appreciated as Her Majesty's voluntary offer at a later date to bear her due share of the income tax.
It is well to notice how later Postmasters General, successors of Rowland Hill in that important office, have striven further to benefit their countrymen. In particular, Henry Fawcett's earnest efforts to encourage and aid habits of thrift are worthy of remembrance.
Again, it is during the first year of Her Majesty's reign that we find Father Mathew, the Irish Capuchin friar, initiating his vast crusade against intemperance, and by the charm of his persuasive eloquence and unselfish enthusiasm inducing thousands upon thousands to forswear the drink-poison that was destroying them. In two years he succeeded in enrolling two million five hundred thousand persons on the side of sobriety. The permanence of the good Father's immediate work was impaired by the superstitions which his poor followers associated with it, much against his desire. Not only were the medals which he gave as badges to his vowed abstainers regarded as infallible talismans from the hand of a saint, but the giver was credited with miraculous powers such as only a Divine Being could exercise, and which he disclaimed in vain—extravagances too likely to discredit his enterprise with more soberly judging persons than the imaginative Celts who were his earliest converts. But, notwithstanding every drawback, his action was most important, and deserves grateful memory. We may see in it the inception of that great movement whose indirect influence in reforming social habits and restraining excess had at least equalled its direct power for good on its pledged adherents. Though it is still unhappily true that drunkenness slays its tens of thousands among us, and largely helps to people our workhouses, our madhouses, and our gaols, yet the fiend walks not now, as it used to do, in unfettered freedom. It is no longer a fashionable vice, excused and half approved as the natural expression of joviality and good-fellowship; peers and commoners of every degree no longer join daily in the "heavy-headed revel" whose deep-dyed stain seems to have soaked through every page of our last-century annals. And it would appear as though the vice were not only held from increasing, but were actually on the decrease. The statistics of the last decade show that the consumption of alcohol is diminishing, and that of true food-stuffs proportionally rising.
There were other enterprises now set on foot, by no means directly philanthropic in their aim, which contemplated utility more than virtue or justice—enterprises whose vast effects are yet unexhausted, and which have so modified the conditions of human existence as to make the new reign virtually a new epoch. As to the real benefit of these immense changes, opinion is somewhat divided; but the majority would doubtless vote in their favour. The first railway in England, that between Liverpool and Manchester, had been opened in 1830, the day of its opening being made darkly memorable by the accident fatal to Mr. Huskisson, as though the new era must be inaugurated by a sacrifice. Three years later there was but this one railway in England, and one, seven miles long, in Scotland. But in 1837 the Liverpool and Birmingham line was opened; in 1838 the London and Birmingham and the Liverpool and Preston lines, and an Act was passed for transmitting the mails by rail; in 1839 there was the opening of the London and Croydon line. The ball was set fairly rolling, and the supersession of ancient modes of communication was a question of time merely. The advance of the new system was much accelerated at the outset by the fact that railway enterprise became the favourite field for speculation, men being attracted by the novelty and tempted by exaggerated prospects of profit; and the mania was followed, like other manias, with results largely disastrous to the speculators and to commerce. But through years of good fortune and of bad fortune the iron network has continued to spread itself, until all the land lies embraced in its ramifications; and it is spreading still, like some strange organism the one condition of whose life is reproduction, knitting the greatest centres of commerce with the loneliest and remotest villages that were wont to lie far out of the travelled ways of men, and bringing Ultima Thule into touch with London.
Meanwhile the steam service by sea has advanced almost with that by land. In 1838 three steamships crossed the Atlantic between this country and New York, the Great Western, sailing from Bristol, and Sirius, from Cork, distinguished themselves by the short passages they made,—of fifteen days in the first case, and seventeen days in the second,—and by their using steam power alone to effect the transit, an experiment that had not been risked before. It was now proved feasible, and in a year or two there was set on foot that regular steam communication between the New World and the Old, which ever since has continued to draw them into always closer connection, as the steamers, like swift-darting shuttles, weave their multiplying magic lines across the liquid plain between.
The telegraph wires that run beside road and rail, doing the office of nerves in transmitting intelligence with thrilling quickness from the extremities to the head and from the head to the extremities of our State, are now so familiar an object, and their operations, such mere matters of every day, that we do not often recall how utterly unfamiliar they were sixty years ago, when Wheatstone and Cooke on this side the Atlantic, and Morse on the other, were devising their methods for giving signals and sounding alarms in distant places by means of electric currents transmitted through metallic circuits. Submarine telegraphy lay undreamed of in the future, land telegraphy was but just gaining hearing as a practicable improvement, when the crown was set on Her Majesty's head amid all that pomp and ceremony at Westminster. A modern English imagination is quite unequal to the task of realising the manifold hindrances that beset human intercourse at that day, when a journey by coach between places as important and as little remote from each other as Leeds and Newcastle occupied sixteen mortal hours, with changes of horses and stoppages for meals on the road, and when letters, unless forwarded by an "express" messenger at heavy cost, tarried longer on the way than even did passengers; while some prudent dwellers in the country deemed it well to set their affairs in order and make their wills before embarking on the untried perils of a journey up to town. These days are well within the memory of many yet living; but if the newer generations that have arisen during the present reign would understand what it is to be hampered in their movements and their correspondence as were their fathers, they must seek the remoter and more savage quarters of Europe, the less travelled portions of America or of half-explored Australia; they must plunge into Asian or African wilds, untouched by civilisation, where as yet there runs not the iron horse, worker of greater marvels than the wizard steeds of fairy fable, that could, transport a single favoured rider over wide distances in little time. The subjugated, serviceable nature-power Steam, with its fellow-servant the tamed and tutored Lightning, has wonderfully contracted distance during these fifty years, making the earth, once so vast to human imagination, appear as a globe shrunken to a tenth of its ancient size, and bringing nations divided by half the surface of that globe almost within sound of each other's speech.
That there is damage as well as profit in all these increased facilities of intercourse must be apparent, since there is evil as well as good in the human world, and increased freedom of communication implies freer communication of the evil as of the good. But we may well hope that the cause of true upward progress will be most served by the vast inevitable changes which, as they draw all peoples nearer together, must deepen and strengthen the sense of human brotherhood, and, as they bring the deeds of all within the knowledge of all, must consume by an intolerable blaze of light the once secret iniquities and oppressions abhorrent to the universal conscience of mankind. The public conscience in these realms at least is better informed and more sensitive than it was in the year of William IV's death and of Victoria's accession.
STORM AND SUNSHINE.
The beneficent changes we have briefly described were but just inaugurated, and their possible power for good was as yet hardly divined, when the young Queen entered into that marriage which we may well deem the happiest action of her life, and the most fruitful of good to her people, looking to the extraordinary character of the husband of her choice, and to the unobtrusive but always advantageous influence which his great and wise spirit exercised on our national life.
The marriage had been anxiously desired, and the way for it judiciously prepared, but it was in no sense forced on either of the contracting parties by their elders who so desired it. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, second son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the Queen's maternal uncle, was nearly of an age with his royal cousin; he had already, young as he was, given evidence of a rare superiority of nature; he had been excellently trained; and there is no doubt that Leopold, king of the Belgians, his uncle, and the Queen's, did most earnestly desire to see the young heiress of the British throne, for whom he had a peculiar tenderness, united to the one person whose position and whose character combined to point him out as the fit partner for her high and difficult destinies. What tact, what patience, and what power of self-suppression the Queen of England's husband would need to exercise, no one could better judge than Leopold, the widowed husband of Princess Charlotte; no one could more fully have exemplified these qualities than the prince in whom Leopold's penetration divined them.
The cousins had already met, in 1836, when their mutual attraction had been sufficiently strong; and in 1839, when Prince Albert, with his elder brother Ernest, was again visiting England, the impression already produced became ineffaceably deep. The Queen, whom her great rank compelled to take the initiative, was not very long in making up her mind when and how to act. Her favoured suitor himself, writing to a dear relative, relates how she performed the trying task, inviting him to render her intensely happy by making "the sacrifice of sharing her life with her, for she said she looked on it as a sacrifice. The joyous openness with which she told me this enchanted me, and I was quite carried away by it." This was on October 15th; nearly six weeks after, on November 23rd, she made to her assembled Privy Council the formal declaration of her intended marriage. There is something particularly touching in even the driest description of this scene; the betrothed bride wearing a simple morning dress, having on her arm a bracelet containing Prince Albert's portrait, which helped to give her courage; her voice, as she read the declaration clear, sweet, and penetrating as ever, but her hands trembling so excessively that it was surprising she could read the paper she held. It was a trying task, but not so difficult as that which had devolved on her a short time before, when, in virtue of her sovereign rank, she had first to speak the words of fate that bound her to her suitor.
Endowed with every charm of person, mind, and manner that can win and keep affection, Prince Albert was able, in marrying the Queen, who loved him and whom he loved, to secure for her a happiness rare in any rank, rarest of all on the cold heights of royalty. This was not all; he was the worthy partner of her greatness. Himself highly cultivated in every sense, he watched with keenest interest over the advance of all cultivation in the land of his adoption, and identified himself with every movement to improve its condition. His was the soul of a statesman—wide, lofty, far-seeing, patient; surveying all great things, disdaining no small things, but with tireless industry pursuing after all necessary knowledge. Add to these intellectual excellences the moral graces of ideal purity of life, chivalrous faithfulness of heart, magnanimous self-suppression, and fervent piety, and we have a slight outline of a character which, in the order of Providence, acted very strongly and with a still living force on the destinies of nineteenth-century England. The Queen had good reasons for the feeling of "confidence and comfort" that shone in the glance she turned on her bridegroom as they walked away, man and wife at last, from the altar of the Chapel Royal, on February 10th, 1840. The union she then entered into immeasurably enhanced her popularity, and strengthened her position as surely as it expanded her nature. Not many years elapsed before Sir Robert Peel could tell her that, in spite of the inroads of democracy, the monarchy had never been safer, nor had any sovereign been so beloved, because "the Queen's domestic life was so happy, and its example so good." Only the Searcher of hearts knoweth how great has been the holy power of a pure, fair, and noble example constantly shining in the high places of the land.
It was hinted by the would-be wise, in the early days of Her Majesty's married life, that it would be idle to look for the royally maternal feeling of an Elizabeth towards her people in a wedded constitutional sovereign. The judgment was a mistake. The formal limitations of our Queen's prerogative, sedulously as she has respected them, have never destroyed her sense of responsibility; wifehood and motherhood have not contracted her sympathies, but have deepened and widened them. The very sorrows of her domestic life have knit her in fellowship with other mourners. No great calamity can befall her humblest subjects, and she hear of it, but there comes the answering flash of tender pity. She is more truly the mother of her people, having walked on a level with them, and with "Love, who is of the valley," than if she had chosen to dwell alone and aloof.
For some years after her marriage the Queen's private life shows like a little isle of brightness in the midst of a stormy sea. Within and without our borders there was small prospect of settled peace at the very time of that marriage. We have said that Lord Melbourne was still Premier; but he and his Ministry had resigned office in the previous May, and had only come back to it in consequence of a curious misunderstanding known as "the Bedchamber difficulty." Sir Robert Peel, who was summoned to form a Ministry on Melbourne's defeat and resignation, had asked from Her Majesty the dismissal of two ladies of her household, the wives of prominent members of the departing Whig Government; but his request conveyed to her mind the sense that he designed to deprive her of all her actual attendants, and against this imagined proposal she set herself energetically. "She could not consent to a course which she conceived to be contrary to usage, and which was repugnant to her feelings." Peel on his part remained firm in his opinion as to the real necessity for the change which he had advocated. From the deadlock produced by mere misunderstanding there seemed at the time only one way of escaping; the defeated Whig Government returned to office. But Ministers who resumed power only because, "as gentlemen," they felt bound to do so, had little chance of retaining it. In September 1841, Lord Melbourne was superseded in the premiership by Sir Robert Peel, and then gave a final proof how single-minded was his loyal devotion by advising the new Prime Minister as to the tone and style likely to commend him to their royal mistress—a tone of clear straightforwardness. "The Queen," said Melbourne—who knew of what he was speaking, if any statesman then did—"is not conceited; she is aware there are many things she cannot understand, and likes them explained to her elementarily, not at length and in detail, but shortly and clearly." The counsel was given and was accepted with equal good feeling, such as was honourable to all concerned; and the Sovereign learned, as years went on, to repose a singular confidence in the Minister with whom her first relations had been so unpropitious, but whose real honesty, ability, and loyalty soon approved themselves to her clear perceptions, which no prejudice has long been able to obscure.
We are told that in later years Her Majesty referred to the disagreeable incident we have just related as one that could not have occurred, if she had had beside her Prince Albert "to talk to and employ in explaining matters," while she refused the suggestion that her impulsive resistance had been advised by any one about her. "It was entirely my own foolishness," [Footnote] she is said to have added—words breathing that perfect simplicity of candour which has always been one of her most strongly marked characteristics.
[Footnote: "Greville Memoirs," Third Part, vol. i.]
Though the matter caused a great sensation at the time, and gave rise to some dismal prophesyings, it was of no permanent importance, and is chiefly noted here because it throws a strong light on Her Majesty's need of such an ever-present aid as she had now secured in the husband wise beyond his years, who well understood his constitutional position, and was resolute to keep within it, avoiding entanglement with any party, and fulfilling with equal impartiality and ability the duties of private secretary to his Sovereign-wife.
The Melbourne Ministry had had to contend with difficulties sufficiently serious, and of these the grimmest and greatest remained still unsettled. At the outset of the reign a rebellion in Canada had required strong repression; and we had taken the first step on a bad road by entering into those disputes as to our right to force the opium traffic on China, which soon involved us in a disastrously successful war with that country. On the other hand, our Indian Government had begun an un-called-for interference with the affairs of Afghanistan, which, successful at first, resulted in a series of humiliating reverses to our arms, culminating in one of the most terrible disasters that have ever befallen a British force—the wholesale massacre of General Elphinstone's defeated and retreating army on its passage through the terrible mountain gorge known as the Pass of Koord Cabul. It was on January 13th, 1842, that the single survivor of this massacre appeared, a half-fainting man, drooping over the neck of his wearied pony, before the fort of Jellalabad, which General Sale still held for the English. He only was "escaped alone" to tell the hideous tale. The ill-advised and ill-managed enterprise which thus terminated had extended over more than three years, had cost us many noble lives, in particular that of the much-lamented Alexander Burnes, had condemned many English women and children to a long and cruel captivity among the savage foe, and had absolutely failed as to the object for which it was undertaken—the instalment of Shah Soojah, a mere British tool, as ruler of Afghanistan, in place of the chief desired by the Afghan people, Dost Mahomed. When the disasters to our arms had been retrieved, as retrieved they were with exemplary promptness, and when the surviving prisoners were redeemed from their hard captivity, it was deemed sound policy for us to attempt no longer to "force a sovereign on a reluctant people," and to remain content with that limit which "nature appears to have assigned" to our Indian empire on its north-western border. Later adventures in the same field have not resulted so happily as to prove that these views were incorrect. Our prestige was seriously damaged in Hindostan by this first Afghan war, and was only partially re-established in the campaign against the Sikhs several years later, despite the dramatic grandeur of that "piece of Indian history" which resulted in our annexation of the Punjaub in 1846—a solid advantage balanced by the unpleasant fact that English soldiers had been proved not invincible by natives.
It will thus appear that there was not too much that was glorious or encouraging in our external affairs in these early years; but the internal condition of the country was never less reassuring. The general discontent of the English lower orders was taking shape as Chartism—a movement which could not have arisen but for the fierce suspicion with which the working classes had learnt to regard those who seemed their superiors in wealth, in rank, or in political power, and which the higher orders retaliated in dislike and distrust of the labouring population, whom they considered as seditious enemies of order and property. The demon of class hatred was never more alive and busy than in the decade which terminated in 1848.
"The Charter," which was the watchword of hope to so many, and the very war-note of discord to many more, comprised six points, of which some at least were sufficiently absurd, while others have virtually passed into law, quietly and naturally, in due course of time; and if the universal Age of Gold which ignorant Chartists looked for has not ensued, at least the anarchy and ruin which their opponents associated with the dreaded scheme are equally non-existent. So fast has the time moved that there is now a little difficulty in understanding the passionate hopes with which the Charter was associated on the one side, and the panic which it inspired on the other; and there is much to move wondering compassion in the profound ignorance which those hopes betrayed, and the not inferior misery amid which they were cherished. Few persons are now so credulous as to expect that annual Parliaments or stipendiary members would insure the universal reign of peace and justice; the people have already found that vote by ballot and suffrage all but universal have neither equalised wealth nor abrogated greed and iniquity; and though there be some dreamers in our midst to-day who look for wonderful transformations of society to follow on possible reforms, there is not even in these dreamy schemes the same amazing disproportion of means to be employed and end to be attained as characterised the Chartist delusion.
In Ireland men were reposing unbounded faith in another sort of political panacea for every personal and social evil—the Repeal of the Union with England, advocated by Daniel O'Connell, with all the power of his passionate Celtic eloquence, and supported by all his extraordinary personal influence. Apparently he hoped to carry this agitation to the same triumphant issue as that for Catholic emancipation, in which he had taken a conspicuous part; but the new movement did not, like the old one, appeal immediately and plausibly to the English sense of fair play and natural justice. A competent and not unfriendly observer has remarked that O'Connell's "theory and policy were that Ireland was to be saved by a dictatorship entrusted to himself." Whether any salvation for the unhappy land did lie in such a dictatorship was a point on which opinion might well be divided. English opinion was massively hostile to it; but for years all the political enthusiasm of Ireland centred in O'Connell and the cause he upheld. The country might be on the brink of ruin and starvation, but the peril seemed forgotten while the dream lasted. The agitator was wont to refer to the Queen in terms of extravagant loyalty, and it would seem that the feeling was largely shared by his followers. However futile and vainglorious his scheme and methods may appear, we must not deny to him a distinction, rare indeed among Irish agitators, of having steadily disclaimed violence and advocated orderly and peaceable proceedings. He thought his cause would be injured, and not advanced, by such outrages as before and since his day have too often disgraced party warfare in Ireland. His favourite maxim was that "the man who commits a crime gives strength to the enemy." This opinion was not heartily endorsed by all his followers. When it became clear that his dislike of physical force was real, when he did not defy the Government, at last stirred into hostile action by the demonstrations he organised, there was an end of his power over the fiercer spirits whom he had roused against the rule of "the Saxon"—luckless phrase with which he had enriched the Anglo-Irish controversy, and misleading as luckless. O'Connell died, a broken and disappointed man, on his way to Rome in 1847; but the spirit he had raised and could not rule did not die with him, and the younger, more turbulent leaders, who had outbid him for popular approval, continued their anti-English warfare with growing zeal until the year of fate 1848.
Even the Principality of Wales had its own peculiar form of agitation, sometimes accompanied by outrage, during these wild opening years. The farmers and labourers in Wales were unprosperous and poor, and in the season of their adversity they found turnpikes and tolls multiplying on their public roads. They resented what appeared a cruel imposition with wrathful impatience, and ere long gave expression to their anger in wild deeds. A text of Scripture suggested to them a fantastic form of riot. They found that it was said of old to Rebecca, "Let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them," and ere long "Rebecca and her children," men masking in women's clothes, made fierce war by night on the "gates" they detested, destroying the turnpikes and driving out their keepers. These raids were not always bloodless. The Government succeeded in repressing the rioting, and then, finding that a real grievance had caused it, did away with the oppressive tolls, and dealt not too hardly with the captured offenders; leniency which soon restored Wales to tranquillity.
A peaceful, strictly constitutional, and finally successful agitation ran its steady course in England for several years contemporaneously with those we have already enumerated. The Anti-Corn-Law League, with which the names of Cobden and Bright are united as closely as those two distinguished men were united in friendship, had in 1838 found a centre eminently favourable to its operations in Manchester. Its leaders were able, well-informed, and upright men, profoundly convinced that their cause was just, and that the welfare of the people was involved in their success or failure. They were men of the middle class, acquainted intimately with the needs and doings of the trading community to which they belonged, and therefore at once better qualified to argue on questions affecting commerce, and less directly interested in the prosperity of agriculture, than the more aristocratic leaders of the nation. Both persuasive and successful speakers, one of them supremely eloquent, they were able to interest even the lowest populace in questions of political economy, and to make Free Trade in Corn the idol of popular passion. Their mode of agitation was eminently reasonable and wise; but it was an agitation, exciting wild enthusiasm and fierce opposition, and must be reckoned not among the forces tending to quiet, but among those that aroused anxious care in the first nine years of the reign. And it was a terrible calamity that at last placed victory within their grasp. The blight on the potato first showed itself in 1845—a new, undreamed-of disaster, probably owing to the long succession of unfavourable seasons. And the potato blight meant almost certainly famine in Ireland, where perhaps three-fourths of the population had no food but this root. The food supply of a whole nation seemed on the point of being cut off. A loud demand was made for "the opening of the ports." By existing laws the ports admitted foreign grain tinder import duties varying in severity inversely with the fluctuating price of home-grown grain; thus a certain high level in the cost of corn was artificially maintained. These regulations, though framed for the protection of the native producer, did not bear so heavily on the consumer as the law of 1815 which they replaced; and the principle represented by them had a large following in the country. But now the argument from famine proved potent to decide the wavering convictions of some who had long been identified with the cause of Protection. The champions of Free Trade were sure of triumph when Sir Robert Peel became one of their converts; and the Corn Bill which he carried in the June of 1846, granting with some little reserve and delay the reforms which the Anti-Corn-Law League had been formed to secure, brought that powerful association to a quiet end. But the threatening Irish famine and the growing Irish disturbances remained, to embarrass the Ministry of Lord John Russell, which came into power within less than a week of that great success of the Tory Minister, defeated on a question of Irish polity on the very day when his Corn Bill received the assent of the House of Lords.
We must not omit, as in passing we chronicle this singular fortune of a great Minister, to notice the grief with which Her Majesty viewed this turn of events. Amid all the anxiety of the period, amid her distress at the cruel sufferings of her servants in India, in Britain, in Ireland, and her care for their relief, she had had two sources of consolation: the pure and simple bliss of her home-life, and the assistance of two most valued counsellors—her husband and her Prime Minister. One was inseparably at her side, but one must now leave it; and she and the Prince met their inevitable loss with the dignified outward acquiescence that was fitting, but with sorrow not less real. The Queen would have bestowed on Peel as distinguished an honour as she could confer—the Order of the Garter; Peel deemed it best to decline it gratefully. "He was from the people and of the people," and wished so to remain, content if his Queen could say, "You have been a faithful servant, and have done your duty to the country and to myself."
In hapless Ireland, torn by agitation and scourged by pestilence and famine, the general misery had reached a point where no fiscal measures, however wise, could at once alleviate it. The potato famine held on its dreadful way, and the darkest moment of Irish history seemed reached in the year when one hundred and seventy thousand persons perished in that island by hunger or hunger-bred fever. The new plague affected Great Britain also; but its suffering was completely overshadowed by the enormous bulk of Irish woe, which the utmost lavishness of charity seemed scarcely to lessen. That there should be turbulence and even violence accompanying all this wretchedness was no way surprising; but in most men's minds the wretchedness held the larger place, and deservedly so, for the sedition, when ripe enough, was dealt with sharply, though not mercilessly, in such a way that ere long all reasonable dread of a civil war being added to the other horrors, had passed away; and the country had leisure for such recovery as was possible to a land so desolate.
There was contemporaneous distress enough and to spare in Great Britain: failures in Lancashire alone to the amount of L16,000,000; failures equally heavy in Birmingham, Glasgow, and other great towns; capital was absorbed by the mad speculations in railway shares; and even Heaven's gift of an abundant harvest, by at once lowering the price of corn, helped to depress commerce. Many banks stopped payment, and even the Bank of England seemed imperilled, saving itself only by adopting a bold line of policy advised by Government. At the same time, the Chartist movement was gathering the strength which was to expend itself in the futile demonstrations of 1848.
But as if it were not enough for every department of political or commercial life to be so seriously affected, there was now arising within the English National Church itself a singular movement, destined to affect the religious history of the land as powerfully, if not as beneficially, as did the Evangelical revival of the last century; and the National Kirk of Scotland, after long and stern contention on the crucial point of civil control in things spiritual, was ready for that rending in twain from which arose the Free Kirk; while other religious bodies were torn by the same keen spirit of strife, the same revolt against ancient order, as that which was distracting the world of politics. The bitterness of the disruption in Scotland is well-nigh exhausted, though the controversy enlisted at the time all the fervid power of a Chalmers; men honour the memory of the champions, while hoping to see the once sharp differences composed for ever. But the "Catholic Revival," initiated under the leadership of Newman, Pusey, and Keble, has proved to be no transient disturbance: and no figure has in relation to the Church history of the half-century the same portentous importance as that of John Henry Newman, whose powerful magnetism, as it attracted or repelled, drew men towards Romanism or drove them towards Rationalism, his logical art, made more impressive by the noble eloquence with which he sometimes adorned it, seeming to leave those who came under his spell no choice between the two extremes. When he finally decided on withdrawing himself from the Anglican and giving in his adhesion to the Roman communion, he set an example that has not yet ceased to be imitated, to the incalculable damage of the English Establishment. Happily the massive Nonconformity of the country was hardly touched either by his influence or his example.
It is pleasant to turn from scenes of doubt and discord, of strife and sorrow, to that bright domestic life which was now vouchsafed to the Sovereign, as if in direct compensation for the storms that raved and beat outside her home—a home now brightened by the presence of five joyous, healthy children. It is a charming picture of the royal pair and of the manner of life in the palace—styled by one foreigner "the one really pleasant, comfortable English house, in which one feels at one's ease "—that is given us by the finely discerning Mendelssohn, invited by the Prince to "come and try his organ" before leaving England in 1842, on which occasion the Queen joined her husband and his guest at the instrument, enjoying and aiding in their musical performance, and singing, "quite faultlessly and with charming feeling and expression," a song written by the great master who was now paying a farewell visit, with nothing of ceremony in it, to English royalty. With a few touches Mendelssohn makes us see the delightful ease and comfort of this royal interior, the Queen gathering up the sheets of music strewn by the wind over the floor—the Prince cleverly managing the organ-stops so as to suit the master while he played—the mighty rocking-horse and the two birdcages beside the music-laden piano in the Queen's own sitting-room, beautiful with pictures and richly-bound books—the pretty difficulty about her finding some of Mendelssohn's own songs to sing to him, since her music was packed up and taken away to Claremont—her naive confession that she had been "so frightened" at singing before the master,—all are chronicled with not less zest and affection than the graceful gift of a valuable ring "as a remembrance" to the artist from the Queen, through Prince Albert. It is a much more pleasing impression that we thus obtain than can be given by details of State ceremonial and visits from other sovereigns. Of these last there was no lack, and the princely visitors were entertained with all due pomp and splendour; but neither on account of these costly entertainments nor on behalf of the royal children did the Sovereign ask the nation for so much as a shilling, the Civil List sufficing for every unlooked-for outlay, now that Prince Albert, by dint of persevering effort, had succeeded in putting the arrangements of the royal household on a satisfactory footing, sweeping away a vast number of time-honoured, thriftless expenses, and rendering a wise and generous economy possible.
Formerly the great officers of the Crown were charged with the oversight of the commonest domestic business of the palace. Being non-resident, these overseers did no overseeing, and the actual servants were practically masterless. Hence arose numberless vexations and extravagant hindrances. In 1843 this objectionable form of the division of labour was brought to an end, and one Master of the household who did his work replaced the many officials who, by a fiction of etiquette, had been formerly supposed to do everything while they did and could do nothing. The long-needed reform could not but be pleasing to the Queen, being quite in harmony with the upright principles that had always ruled her conduct, she having begun her reign by paying off the debts of her dead father—debts contracted not in her lifetime nor on her account, and which a spirit less purely honourable might therefore have declined to recognise.
Thanks to the Prince's able management, the royal pair found it in their power to purchase for themselves the estate of Osborne, in the Isle of Wight—a charming retreat all their own, which they could adorn for their delight with no thought of the thronging public; where the Prince could farm and build and garden to his heart's content, and all could escape from the stately restraints of their burdensome rank, and from "the bitterness people create for themselves in London." Before very long they found for themselves that Highland holiday home of Balmoral which was to be so peculiarly dear, and in which Her Majesty—whose first visit to the then discontented Scotland was deemed quite a risky experiment—was so completely to win for herself the admiring love of her Scottish subjects.
At Balmoral Mr. Greville saw them some little time after their acquisition of the place, and witnesses to the "simplicity and ease" with which they lived, to the gay good humour that pervaded their circle—"the Queen running in and out of the house all day long, often going out alone, walking into the cottages, sitting down and chatting with the old women," the Prince free from trammels of etiquette, showing what native charm of manner and what high, cultivated intelligence were really his. The impression is identical with that conveyed by Her Majesty's published Journal of that Highland life; and, though lacking the many graceful details of that record, the testimony has its own value. Happy indeed was the Sovereign for whom the black cloud of those years showed such a silver lining! Other potentates were less happy, both as regarded their private blessings and their public fortunes.
It would be agreeable to English feelings, but not altogether consonant with historic truth, if we could leave unnoticed the scandalous attempts on the Queen's life which marked the earliest period of her reign and have been renewed in later days. The first attacks were by far of the most alarming character, but Her Majesty, whose escape on one occasion seemed due only to her husband's prompt action, never betrayed any agitation or alarm; and her dauntless bearing, and the care for others which she manifested by dispensing with the presence of her usual lady attendants when she anticipated one of these assaults, immensely increased the already high esteem in which her people held her. The first assailant, a half-crazy lad of low station named Oxford, was shut up in a lunatic asylum. For the second, a man named Francis, the same plea could not be urged; but the death-sentence he had incurred was commuted to transportation for life. Almost immediately a deformed lad called Bean followed the example of Francis. Her Majesty, who had been very earnest to save the life of the miserable beings attacking her, desired an alteration in the law as to such assaults; and their penalty was fixed at seven years' transportation, or imprisonment not exceeding three years, to which the court was empowered to add a moderate number of whippings—punishments having no heroic fascination about them, like that which for heated and shallow brains invested the hideous doom of "traitors." The expedient proved in a measure successful, none of the later assaults, discreditable as they are, betraying a really murderous intention. It has been remarked as a noteworthy circumstance that popular English monarchs have been more exposed to such dangers than others who were cordially disliked. It is not hatred that has prompted these assassins so much as imbecile vanity and the passion for notoriety, misleading an obscure coxcomb to think
"His glory would be great According to her greatness whom he quenched."
FRANCE AND ENGLAND.
It is necessary now to look at the relations of our Government with other nations, and in particular with France, whose fortunes just at this time had a clearly traceable effect on our own.
For several years the Court of England had been on terms of unprecedented cordiality with the French Court. The Queen had personally visited King Louis Philippe at the Chateau d'Eu—an event which we must go back as far as the days of Henry VIII to parallel—and had contracted a warm friendship for certain members of his family, in particular for the Queen, Marie Amelie, for the widowed Duchess of Orleans, a maternal cousin of Prince Albert, and for the perfect Louise, the truthful, unselfish second wife of Leopold, King of the Belgians, and daughter of the King of the French. It was a rude shock to all the warm feelings which our Queen, herself transparently honest, had learnt to cherish for her royal friends when the French King and his Minister, Guizot, entered into that fatal intrigue of theirs, "the Spanish marriages." Isabella, the young Queen of Spain, and her sister and heiress presumptive, Louisa, were yet unmarried at the time of the visit to the Chateau d'Eu; and about that time an undertaking was given by the French to the English Government that the Infanta Louisa should not marry a French prince until her sister, the actual Queen, "should be married and have children." The possible union of the crowns of France and Spain was known for a dream of French ambition, and was equally well known to be an object of dislike and dread to other European Powers. The engagement which the French King had now given seemed therefore well calculated to disarm suspicion and promote peace; but the one was reawakened and the other endangered when it became known that he had so used his power over the Spanish court as to procure that the royal sisters of Spain should be married on one day—Isabella, the Queen, to the most unfit and uncongenial of all the possible candidates for her hand; Louisa to King Louis Philippe's son, the Duke of Montpensier. The transaction on the face of it was far from respectable, since the credit and happiness of the young Spanish Queen seemed to have hardly entered into the consideration of those who arranged for her the mariage de convenance into which she was led blindfold; but when regarded as a violation of good faith it was additionally displeasing. Queen Victoria, to whom the scheme was imparted only when it was ripe for execution, through her personal friend Louise, Queen of the Belgians, replied to the communication in a tone of earnest, dignified remonstrance; but apparently the King was now too thoroughly committed to his scheme to be deterred by any reasoning or reproaches, and the tragical farce was played out. It had no good results for France; England was chilled and alienated, but the Spanish crown never devolved on the Duchess of Montpensier. Within two little years from her marriage that princess and all the French royal family fled from France, so hastily that they had scarcely money enough to provide for their journey, and appeared in England as fugitives, to be aided and protected by the Queen, who forgot all political resentment, and remembered only her personal regard for these fallen princes.
The overthrow of the Orleans dynasty in 1848 was a complete surprise, and men have never ceased to see something disgraceful in its amazing suddenness. Here was a great king, respected for wisdom and daring, and supposed to understand at every point the character of the land he ruled, his power appearing unshaken, while it was known to be backed with an army one hundred thousand strong. And almost without warning a whirlwind of insurrection against this solid power and this able ruler broke out, and in a few wild hours swept the whole fabric into chaos. Nothing caused more surprise at the moment than the extreme bitterness of animosity which the insurgents manifested towards the king's person, unless it were the tameness with which he submitted to his fate and the precipitancy of his flight. There was something rotten in the state of things, men said, which could thus dissolve, crushed like a swollen fungus by a casual foot. And indeed, whether with perfect justice or not, Louis Philippe's Administration had come to be deemed corrupt some time ere his fall. The free-spoken Parisians had openly flouted it as such: witness a mock advertisement placarded in the streets: "A nettoyer, deux Chambres et une Cour": "Two Chambers and a Court to clean." A French Government that had been crafty, but not crafty enough to conceal the fact, that was rather contemned for plotting than dreaded for unscrupulous energy, was already in peril. The still unsubdued revolutionary spirit, working under the smooth surface of French society, was the element which accomplished the destruction of this discredited Government.
The outbreak in France acted like a spark in a powder magazine; ere long great part of Europe was shaken by the second great revolutionary upheaval, when potentates seemed falling and ancient dynasties crumbling on all sides—a period of eager hope to many, followed by despair when the reaction set in, accompanied in too many places by repressive measures of pitiless severity. The contemptuous feeling with which many Englishmen were wont to view such Continental troubles is well embodied in the lines which Tennyson put into the mouth of one of his characters, speaking of France:
"Yonder, whiff! there comes a sudden heat, The gravest citizen seems to lose his head, The king is scared, the soldier will not fight. The little boys begin to shoot and stab, A kingdom topples over with a shriek Like an old woman, and down rolls the world In mock-heroics— Revolts, republics, revolutions, most No graver than a schoolboy's barring out; Too comic for the solemn things they are, Too solemn for the comic touches in them."
In this wild year 1848, which saw Revolution running riot on the Continent, England too had its share of troubles not less painfully ridiculous; the insurrection headed by Smith O'Brien, a chief of the "Young Ireland" party, coming to an inglorious end in the affray that took place at "the widow McCormick's cabbage-garden, Ballingarry," in the month of July; the greatly dreaded Chartist demonstration at Kennington Common on April 10th by its conspicuous failure having done much to damp the hopes and spirits of the party of disorder generally.
It would be easy now to laugh at the frustrated designs of the Chartist leaders and at the sort of panic they aroused in London: the vast procession, which was to have marched in military order to overawe Parliament, resolving itself into a confused rabble easily dispersed by the police, and the monster petition, that should have numbered six million signatures, transported piecemeal to the House, and there found to have but two million names appended, many fictitious; the Chartist leader, completely cowed, thanking the Home Office for its lenient treatment; or, on the other hand, London and its peaceful inhabitants, distracted with wild rumours of combat and bloodshed, apprehending a repetition of Parisian madnesses, and unaware how thoroughly the Duke of Wellington, entrusted with the defence of the capital and its important buildings, had carried out all needful arrangements. The two hundred thousand special constables sworn in to aid in maintaining law and order on that day were visible enough, and had their utility in conveying a certain impression of safety; the troops whom the veteran commander held in readiness were kept out of sight till wanted. These rebellious spirits imagining themselves formidable and free, when caught in an invisible iron network—these terrified citizens, protected all unconsciously to themselves against the impotent foe whom they dreaded—might furnish food for mirth if we did not remember the real, deep, and widespread misery which found inarticulate but piteous expression in the movement now coming to confusion under the firm assertion of necessary authority. The disturbances must needs be quieted; but hitherto it has been the glory of our Victorian statesmen to have understood that the grievances which caused them must also be dealt with. Now that all which could be deemed wise and good in Chartist demands has been conceded, orderly and quietly, the name "Chartism" has utterly lost its dread significance.
No cruelly vindictive measures of reprisal followed the collapse of the agitation; none indeed were needed. The revolutionary epidemic, which had spread hitherward from France, found our body politic in too sound a condition, and could not fasten on it; and the subsequent convulsions which shook our great neighbour hardly called forth an answering thrill in England. The strange transactions of December 1851, by means of which Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Prince-President of the new French republic, succeeded in overthrowing that republic and replacing it by an empire of which he was the head, did indeed excite displeasure and distrust in many minds; and though it was believed that his high-handed proceedings had averted much disorder, the English Government was not prepared at once to accept all the proffered explanations of French diplomacy; but the then foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, by the rash proclamation of his individual approval, committed the Ministry of which he was one to a recognition of the de facto Monarch of France. This step was but the last of many instances in which Palmerston had acted without due reference to the premier's or the Sovereign's opinion—a course of conduct which had justly displeased the Queen, and had drawn from her grave and pointed remonstrances. The final transgression led to his resignation; but its effects on our relations with France remained.
Meanwhile the Emperor's consistent and probably sincere display of goodwill towards England, the apparent complacency with which the French nation acquiesced in his rule, and the outward prosperity accompanying it, did their natural work in conciliating approval, and in making men willing to forget the obscure and tortuous steps by which he had climbed to power. One day he and France were to pay for these things; but meanwhile he was a popular ruler, accepted and approved by the nation he governed, anxious for its prosperity, and earnest in keeping it friendly with Great Britain, which he had found a hospitable home in the days of his obscurity, which was again to offer an asylum to him in a day of utter disaster and overthrow, and where his life, chequered by vicissitudes stranger than any known to romance, was to come to a quiet close. It has been the singular fortune of Her Majesty to receive into the sacred shelter of her realm two dethroned monarchs, two fallen fortunes, two dynasties cast out from sovereign power, while her own throne, "broad-based upon her people's will, and compassed by the inviolate sea," has stood firm and unshaken, even by a breath. And it has been her special honour to cherish with affection, even warmer in their adversity, the friends who had gained her regard when their prosperity seemed as bright and their great position as assured as her own. Visiting the Emperor Napoleon in his splendid capital, feted and welcomed by him and his Empress with every flattering form of honour that his ingenuity could devise or his power enable him to show, she did not forget the Orleans family and their calamities, but frankly urged on her host the injustice of the confiscations with which he had requited the supposed hostility of those princes, and endeavoured to persuade him to milder measures. She visited in his company the tomb of the lamented Duke of Orleans; and her first care on returning to England was to show some kindly attention to the discrowned royalties who were now her guests. In the same spirit, in after years, she extended a friendly hand to the exiled Empress Eugenie, escaping from new revolutionary perils to English safety, and altogether declined to consider her personal regard for the lady, whose attractions had deservedly gained it in brighter days, as being in any sense complicated with matters political. The resolute loyalty with which she at once maintained her private friendships and kept them entirely apart from her public action compelled toleration from the persons most inclined to take umbrage at it.
An instance of successful and courageous enterprise on Her Majesty's part may well close this brief notice of the internal and external convulsions which for a time shook, though they did not shatter, the peace of our realm. In the late summer of 1849 a royal visit to Ireland, now just reviving from its misery, was planned and carried out with complete success; the wild Irish enthusiasm blazed up into raptures of a loyal welcome, and the Sovereign, who played her part with all the graceful perfection that her compassionate heart and quick intelligence suggested, was delighted with the little tour, from which those who shared in it prophesied "permanent good" for Ireland. At least it had a healing, beneficial effect at the moment; and perhaps more could not have been reasonably hoped. Later royal visits to the sister isle have been less conspicuous, but all fairly successful.
THE CRIMEAN WAR.
The "Exhibition year," 1851, appears to our backward gaze almost like a short day of splendid summer interposed between two stormy seasons; but at the time men were more inclined to regard it as the first of a long series of halcyon days. Indeed, the unexampled number and success of the various efforts to redress injury and reform abuses, which had signalised the new reign, might almost justify those sanguine spirits, who now wrote and spoke as though wars and oppression were well on their way to the limbo of ancient barbarisms, and who looked to unfettered commerce as the peace-making civiliser, under whose influence the golden age—in more senses than one might revisit the earth.
We have already referred to certain of the new transforming forces whose action tended to heighten such hopes; there are two reforms as yet unnamed by us, distinguishing these early years, which are particularly significant; though one at least was stoutly opposed by a special class of reformers. We refer to the legislation dealing with mines and factories and those employed therein, with which is inseparably connected the venerable name of the late Lord Shaftesbury; and to the abolition of duelling in the army, secured by the untiring efforts of Prince Albert, who had enlisted on his side the immense influence of the Duke of Wellington.
That peculiar modern survival of the ancient trial by combat, the duel, was still blocking the way of English civilisation when Her Majesty assumed the sceptre. A palpable anachronism, it yet seemed impossible to make men act on their knowledge of its antiquated and barbarous character; legislation was fruitless of good against a practice consecrated by false sentiment and false ideas of honour; but when dislodged from its chief stronghold, the army, it became quickly discredited everywhere, with the happy result noted by a contemporary historian, that now "a duel in England would seem as absurd and barbarous as an ordeal by touch or a witch-burning." Militarism, that mischievous counterfeit of true soldierly spirit, could not thrive where the duel was discountenanced; and the friends of peace might rejoice with reason.
But those peaceful agitators, the sagacious, energetic Cobden and his allies, resented rather sharply the interference of the Lord Ashley of that day with the "natural laws" of the labour market—laws to whose operation some of the party attributed the cruelly excessive hours of work in factories, and the indiscriminate employment of all kinds of labour, even that of the merest infants. Undeterred by these objections, convinced that no law which sanctioned and promoted cruelty did so with true authority, Lord Ashley persisted in the struggle on which he had entered 1833; in 1842 he scored his first great success in the passing of an Act that put an end to the employment of women and children in mines and collieries; in 1844 the Government carried their Factories Act, which lessened and limited the hours of children's factory labour, and made other provisions for their benefit. It was not all that he had striven for, but it was much; he accepted the compromise, but did not slacken in his efforts still further to improve the condition of the children. His career of steady benevolence far outstretched this early period of battle and endurance; but already his example and achievement were fruitful of good, and his fellow-labourers were numerous. Nothing succeeds like success: people had sneered at the mania for futile legislation that possessed the "humanity-monger" who so embarrassed party leaders with his crusade on behalf of mere mercy and justice; they now approved the practical philanthropist who had taken away a great reproach from his nation, and glorified the age in which they lived because of its special humaneness, while they exulted not less in the brightening prospects of the country. Sedition overcome, law and order triumphant, the throne standing firm, prosperity returning—all ministered to pride and hope.
In 1850 there had been some painful incidents; the death by an unhappy accident of Sir Robert Peel, and the turbulent excitement of what are known as the "No Popery" disturbances, being the most notable: and of these again incomparably the most important was the untimely loss to the country of the great and honest statesman who might otherwise have rendered still more conspicuous services to the Sovereign and the empire. The sudden violent outburst of popular feeling, provoked by a piece of rash assumption on the part of the reigning Pope, was significant, indeed, as evidencing how little alteration the "Catholic revival" had worked in the temper of the nation at large; otherwise its historic importance is small. At the time, however, the current of agitation ran strongly, and swept into immediate oblivion an event which three years before would have had a European importance—the 'death of Louis Philippe, whose strangely chequered life came to an end in the old palace of Claremont, just before the "papal aggressions"—rash, impolitic, and mischievous, as competent observers pronounced it, but powerless to injure English Protestantism—had thrown all the country into a ferment, which took some months to subside. We are told that Her Majesty, though naturally interested by this affair, was more alive to the quarter where the real peril lay than were some of her subjects; but in the universal distress caused by the death of Peel none joined more truly, none deplored that loss more deeply, than the Sovereign, who would willingly have shown her value for the true servant she had lost by conferring a peerage on his widow—an honour which Lady Peel, faithful to the wishes and sharing the feeling of her husband, felt it necessary to decline.
Amid these agitations, inferior far to many that had preceded them, the year 1850 ran out, and 1851 opened—the year in which Prince Albert's long-pursued project of a great International Exhibition of Arts and Industries was at last successfully carried out. The idea, as expounded by himself at a banquet given by the Lord Mayor, was large and noble. "It was to give the world a true test, a living picture, of the point of industrial development at which the whole of mankind had arrived, and a new starting-point from which all nations would be able to direct their further exertions." The magnificent success, unflawed by any vexatious or dangerous incident, with which the idea was carried out, had made it almost impossible for us to understand the opposition with which the plan was greeted, the ridicule that was heaped upon it, the foolish fears which it inspired; while the many similar Exhibitions in this and other countries that have followed and emulated, but never altogether equalled, the first, have made us somewhat oblivious of the fact that the scheme when first propounded was an absolute novelty. It was a fascination, a wonder, a delight; it aroused enthusiasm that will never be rekindled on a like occasion.
Paxton's fairy palace of glass and iron, erected in Hyde Park, and canopying in its glittering spaces the untouched, majestic elms of that national pleasure-ground as well as the varied treasures of industrial and artistic achievement brought from every quarter of the globe, divided the charmed astonishment of foreign spectators with the absolute orderliness of the myriads who thronged it and crowded all its approaches on the great opening day. Perhaps on that day the Queen touched the summit of her rare happiness. It was the 1st of May—her own month—and the birthday of her youngest son, the godchild and namesake of the great Duke. She stood, the most justly popular and beloved of living monarchy, amid thousands of her rejoicing subjects, encompassed with loving friends and happy children, at the side of the beloved husband whose plan was now triumphantly realised; and she spoke the words which inaugurated that triumph and invited the world to gaze on it.
"The sight was magical," she says, "so vast, so glorious, so touching...God bless my dearest Albert! God bless my dearest country, which has shown itself so great to-day! One felt so grateful to the great God, Who seemed to pervade all and to bless all. The only event it in the slightest degree reminded me of was the coronation, but this day's festival was a thousand times superior. In fact, it is unique, and can bear no comparison, from its peculiar beauty and combination of such striking and different objects. I mean the slight resemblance only as to its solemnity; the enthusiasm and cheering, too, were much more touching, for in a church naturally all is silent."
The Exhibition remained open from the 1st of May to the 11th of October, continuing during all those months to attract many thousands of visitors. It had charmed the world by the splendid embodiment of peace and peaceful industries which it presented, and men willingly took this festival as a sign bespeaking a yet longer reign of world-tranquillity. It proved to be only a sort of rainbow, shining in the black front of approaching tempest. When 1854 opened, the third year from the Exhibition year, we were already committed to war with Russia; and the forty years' peace with Europe, finally won at Waterloo, was over and gone.
In the interval another great spirit had passed away. The Duke of Wellington died, very quietly and with little warning, at Walmer Castle, on the 14th of September, 1852, "full of years and honours." He was in his eighty-fourth year, and during the whole reign of Queen Victoria he had occupied such a position as no English subject had ever held before. At one time, before that reign began, his political action had made him extraordinarily unpopular, in despite of the splendid military services which no one could deny; now he was the very idol of the nation, and at the same time was treated with the utmost respect and reverent affection by the Sovereign—two distinctions how seldom either attained or merited by one person! But in Wellington's case there is no doubt that the popular adoration and the royal regard were worthily bestowed and well earned. He had never seemed stirred by the popular odium, he never seemed to prize the popular praise, which he received; it was not for praise that he had worked, but for simple duty; and his experience of the fickleness of public favour might make him something scornful of it. To the honours which his Sovereign delighted to shower on him—honours perhaps never before bestowed on a subject by a monarch—he was sensitive. The Queen to him was the noblest personification of the country whose good had ever been, not only the first, but the only object of his public action: and with this patriotic loyalty there mingled something of a personal feeling, more akin to romance in its paternal tenderness than seemed consistent with the granite-hewn strength and sternness of his general character. A thorough soldier, with a soldier's contempt for fine-spun diplomacy, he had been led into many a blunder when acting as a chief of party and of State; but his absolute single-minded honesty had more than redeemed such errors; "integrity and uprightness had preserved him," and through him the land and its rulers, amid difficulties where the finest statecraft might have made shipwreck of all.
He had his human failings; yet the moral grandeur of his whole career cast such faults into the shade, and justified entirely the universal grief at his not untimely death. The Queen deplored him as "our immortal hero"—a servant of the Crown "devoted, loyal, and faithful" beyond all example; the nation endeavoured by a funeral of unprecedented sumptuousness to show its sense of loss; the poet laureate devoted to his memory a majestic Ode, hardly surpassed by any in the language for its stately, mournful music, and finely faithful in its characterisation of the dead hero—
"The man of long-enduring blood, The statesman-warrior, moderate, resolute, Whole in himself, a common good;... ...The man of amplest influence, Yet clearest of ambitious crime, Our greatest yet with least pretence, Great in council and great in war, Foremost captain of his time, Rich in saving common-sense. And, as the greatest only are. In his simplicity sublime;... Who never sold the truth to serve the hour, Nor paltered with Eternal God for power; Who let the turbid streams of rumour flow Through either babbling world of high and low; Whose life was work, whose language rife With rugged maxims hewn from life; Who never spoke against a foe; Whose eighty winters freeze with one rebuke All great self-seekers trampling on the right: Truth-teller was our England's Alfred named; Truth-lover was our English Duke; Whatever record leap to light He never shall be shamed."
When, within so short a period after Wellington's death, the nation once more found itself drawn into a European war, there were many whose regret for his removal was quickened into greater keenness. "Had we but the Duke to lead our armies!" was the common cry; but even his military genius might have found itself disastrously fettered, had he occupied the position which his ancient subordinate and comrade, Lord Raglan, was made to assume. It may be doubted if Wellington could have been induced to assume it.
Whether there ever would have been a Crimean war if no special friendliness had existed between France and England may be fair matter for speculation. The quarrel issuing in that war was indeed begun by France; but it would have been difficult for England to take no part in it. The apple of discord was supplied by a long-standing dispute between the Greek and Latin Churches as to the Holy Places situated in Palestine—a dispute in which France posed as the champion of the Latin and Russia of the Greek right to the guardianship of the various shrines. The claim of France was based on a treaty between Francis I and the then Sultan, and related to the Holy Places merely; the Russian claim, founded on a treaty between Turkey and Catherine II, was far wider, and embraced a protectorate over all Christians of the Greek Church in Turkey, and therefore over a great majority of the Sultan's European subjects. Such a construction of the treaty in question, however, had always been refused by England whenever Russia had stated it; and its assertion at this moment bore an ominous aspect in conjunction with the views which the reigning Czar Nicholas had made very plain to English statesmen, both when he visited England in 1844 and subsequently to that visit. To use his own well-known phrase, he regarded Turkey as "a sick man"—a death-doomed man, indeed—and hoped to be the sick man's principal heir. He had confidently reckoned on English co-operation when the Turkish empire should at last be dismembered; he was now to find, not only that co-operation would be withheld, but that strong opposition would be offered to the execution of the plan, for which it had seemed that a favourable moment was presenting itself. The delusion under which he had acted was one that should have been dispelled by plain English speech long before; but now that he found it to be a delusion, he did not recede from his demands upon the Porte: he rather multiplied them. The upshot of all this was war, in spite of protracted diplomatic endeavours to the contrary; and into that war French and English went side by side. Once before they had done so, when Philip Augustus and Richard Coeur de Lion united their forces to wrest the Holy Places from the Saracens; that enterprise had been disgraced by particularly ugly scandals from which this was free; but in respect to glory of generalship, or permanent results secured, the Crimean campaign has little pre-eminence over the Fourth Crusade.
Recent disclosures, which have shown that Lord Aberdeen's Ministry was not rightly reproached with "drifting" idly and recklessly into this disastrous contest, have also helped to clear the English commander's memory from the slur of inefficiency so liberally flung on him at the time, while it has been shown that his action was seriously hampered by the French generals with whom he had to co-operate. From whatever cause, such glory as was gained in the Crimea belongs more to the rank and file of the allied armies than to those highest in command. The first success won on the heights of the Alma was not followed up; the Charge of the Six Hundred, which has made memorable for ever the Russian repulse at Balaklava, was a splendid mistake, valuable chiefly for the spirit-stirring example it has bequeathed to future generations of English soldiers, for its illustration of death-defying, disciplined courage; the great fight at Inkerman was only converted from a calamitous surprise into a victory by sheer obstinate valour, not by able strategy; and the operations that after Lord Raglan's death brought the unreasonably protracted siege of Sebastopol to a close did but evince afresh how grand were the soldierly qualities of both French and English, and how indifferently they were generalled.
If the allies came out of the conflict with no great glory, they had such satisfaction as could be derived from the severer losses and the discomfiture at all points of the foe. The disasters of the war had been fatal to the Czar Nicholas, who died on March 2nd, 1855, from pulmonary apoplexy—an attack to which he had laid himself open, it was said, in melancholy recklessness of his health. His was a striking personality, which had much more impressed English imaginations than that of Czar or Czarina since the time of Peter the Great; and the Queen herself had regarded the autocrat, whose great power made him so lonely, with an interest not untouched with compassion at the remote period when he had visited her Court and had talked with her statesmen about the imminent decay of Turkey. At that time the austere majesty of his aspect, seen amid the finer and softer lineaments of British courtiers, had been likened to the half-savage grandeur of an emperor of old Rome who should have been born a Thracian peasant. It proved that the contrast had gone much deeper than outward appearance, and that his views and principles had been as opposed to those of the English leaders, and as impossible of participation by such men as though he had been an imperfectly civilised contemporary of Constantine the Great. Since then he had succeeded in making himself more heartily hated, by the bulk of the English nation, than any sovereign since Napoleon I; for the war, into which the Government had entered reluctantly, was regarded by the people with great enthusiasm, and the foe was proportionately detested.
Many anticipated that the death of the Czar would herald in a triumphant peace; but in point of fact, peace was not signed until the March of 1856. Its terms satisfied the diplomatists both of France and England; they would probably have been less complacent could they have foreseen the day when this hard-won treaty would be torn up by the Power they seemed to be binding hand and foot with sworn obligations of perdurable toughness; least of all would that foresight have been agreeable to Lord Palmerston, Premier of England when the peace was signed, and quite at one with the mass of the people of England in their deep dislike and distrust of Russia and its rulers.
The political advantages which can be clearly traced to this war are not many. Privateers are no longer allowed to prey on the commerce of belligerent nations, and neutral commerce in all articles not contraband of war must be respected, while no blockade must be regarded unless efficiently and thoroughly maintained. Such were the principles with which the plenipotentiaries who signed the Treaty of Paris in 1856 enriched the code of international law; and these principles, which are in force still, alone remain of the advantages supposed to have been secured by all the misery and all the expenditure of the Crimean enterprise.
But other benefits, not of a political nature, arose out of the hideous mismanagement which had disgraced the earlier stages of the war. It is a very lamentable fact that of the 24,000 good Englishmen who left their bones in the Crimea, scarce 5,000 had fallen in fair fight or died of wounds received therein. Bad and deficient food, insufficient shelter and clothing, utter disorganisation and confusion in the hospital department, accounted for the rest. These evils, when exposed in the English newspapers, called forth a cry of shame and wrath from all the nation, and stirred noble men and women into the endeavour to mitigate at least the sufferings of the unhappy wounded. Miss Florence Nightingale, the daughter of a wealthy English gentleman, was known to take a deep and well-informed interest in hospital management; and this lady was induced to superintend personally the nursing of the wounded in our military hospitals in the East. Entrusted with plenary powers over the nurses, and accompanied by a trained staff of lady assistants, she went out to wrestle with and overcome the crying evils which too truly existed, and which were the despair of the army doctors. Her success in this noble work, magnificently complete as it was, did indeed "multiply the good," as Sidney Herbert had foretold: we may hope it will continue so to multiply it "to all time." The horrors of war have been mitigated to an incalculable extent by the exertions of the noble men and women who, following in the path first trodden by the Crimean heroines, formed the Geneva Convention, and have borne the Red Cross, its most sacred badge, on many a bloody field, in many a scene of terrible suffering—suffering touched with gleams of human pity and human gratitude; for the courageous tenderness of many a soft-handed and lion-hearted nursing sister, since the days of Florence Nightingale, has aroused the same half-adoring thankfulness which made helpless soldiers turn to kiss that lady's shadow, thrown by her lamp on the hospital wall.