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Great Britain and Her Queen by Anne E. Keeling

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Author of "General Gordon: Hero and Saint," "The Oakhurst
Chronicles," "Andrew Golding," etc.

Second Edition. Revised and Enlarged, 1897

[Illustration: Queen Victoria]

[Illustration: Claremont]















Queen Victoria
The Coronation of Queen Victoria
Kensington Palace
Duchess of Kent
Elizabeth Fry
Rowland Hill
Father Mathew
George Stephenson
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
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

[Illustration: The Coronation of Queen Victoria]


[Illustration: Kensington Palace]



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

[Illustration: Duchess of Kent. From an Engraving by Messrs. P. & D.
Colnaghi & Co., Pall Mall East.]

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

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

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

[Footnote: C. C. F. Greville: "A Journal of the Reign of Queen

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."

[Illustration: Elizabeth Fry]

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.

[Illustration: Rowland Hill]

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

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.

[Illustration: Father Mathew]

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.

[Illustration: George Stephenson]

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.

[Illustration: Wheatstone.]

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.



[Illustration: St. James's Palace.]

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

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.

[Illustration: Prince Albert.]

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.

[Illustration: The Queen in her Wedding-Dress. _After the Picture by_

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.

[Illustration: Sir Robert Peel.]

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.

[Illustration: Daniel O'Connell.]

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.

[Illustration: Richard Cobden.]

[Illustration: John Bright.]

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.

[Illustration: Lord John Russell.]

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

[Illustration: Thomas Chalmers.]

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.

[Illustration: John Henry Newman. _From a photograph by_ Mr. H. J.
Whitlock, _Birmingham_.]

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.

[Illustration: Balmoral.]

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.

[Illustration: Osborne House.]

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

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."



[Illustration: Buckingham Palace.]

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.

[Illustration: Napoleon III.]

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



[Illustration: The Crystal Palace, 1851.]

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.

[Illustration: Lord Ashley.]

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.

[Illustration: Earl of Derby.]

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

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.

[Illustration: Duke of Wellington.]

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

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.

[Illustration: Florence Nightingale.]

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.

The horrors thus mitigated have become more than ever repugnant to
the educated perception of Christendom, because of the merciful
devotion which, ever toiling to lessen them, keeps them before the
world's eye. In every great war that has shaken the civilised world
since the strife in the Crimea broke out, the ambulance, its
patients, its attendants, have always been in the foreground of the
picture. Never have the inseparable miseries of warfare been so well
understood and so widely realised, thanks in part to that new
literary force of the Victorian age, the _war correspondent_, and
chiefly, perhaps, to the new position henceforth assumed by the
military medical and hospital service. To the same source we may
fairly attribute the great improvements wrought in the whole conduct
of that distinctively Christian charity, unknown to heathenism, the
hospital system: the opening of a new field of usefulness to educated
and devoted women of good position, as nurses in hospitals and out;
and the vast increase of public interest in and public support of
such agencies. Even the Female Medical Mission, now rising into such
importance in the jealous lands of the East, may be traced not very
indirectly to the same cause.

The Queen, whose enthusiasm for her beloved army and navy was very
earnest, and frankly shown, who had suffered with their sufferings
and exulted in their exploits, followed with a keen, personal,
unfaltering interest the efforts made for their relief. "Tell these
poor, noble wounded and sick men that _no one_ takes a warmer
interest, or feels more for their sufferings, or admires their
courage and heroism more than their Queen. So does the Prince," was
the impulsive, heart-warm message which Her Majesty sent for
transmission through Miss Nightingale to her soldier-patients. Her
deeds proved that these words were words of truth. Not content with
subscribing largely to the fund raised on behalf of those left
orphaned and widowed by the war, she took part in the work of
providing fitting clothing for the men exposed to all the terrors of
a Russian winter; and her daughters, enlisted to aid in this pious
work, began that career of beneficence which two of them were to
pursue afterwards to such good purpose, amid the ravages of wars
whose colossal awfulness dwarfed the Crimean campaign in the memories
of men.

Many of the injured being invalided home while the war was in
progress, Her Majesty embraced the opportunity to testify her
sympathy and admiration, giving to them in public with her own hands
the medals for service rendered at Alma, at Balaklava, and at
Inkerman. It would not be easy to say whether the Sovereign or the
soldiers were more deeply moved on this occasion. Conspicuous among
the maimed and feeble heroes was the gallant young Sir Thomas
Troubridge, who, lamed in both feet by a Russian shot at Inkerman,
had remained at his post, giving his orders, while the fight endured,
since there was none to fill his place. He appeared now, crippled for
life, but declared himself "amply repaid for everything," while the
Queen decorated him, and told him he should be one of her
aides-de-camp. Her own high courage and resolute sense of duty moved
her with special sympathy for heroism like this; and she obeyed the
natural dictates of her heart in conspicuously rewarding it. With a
similar impulse, on the return of the army, she made a welcoming
visit to the sick and wounded at Chatham, and testified the liveliest
appreciation of the humane services of Miss Nightingale, to whom a
jewel specially designed by the Prince was presented, in grateful
recognition of her inestimable work. The new decoration of the
Victoria Cross, given "for valour" conspicuously shown in deeds of
self-devotion in war time, further proved how keenly the Queen and
her consort appreciated soldierly virtue. It was the Prince who first
proposed that such a badge of merit should be introduced, the Queen
who warmly accepted the idea, and in person bestowed the Cross on its
first wearers, thereby giving it an unpurchasable value.



Lord Aberdeen, who did not hope very great things from the war which
had initiated during his Ministry, had yet deemed it possible that
Eastern Europe might reap from it the benefit of a quarter of a
century's peace. He was curiously near the mark in this estimate; but
neither he nor any other English statesman was unwary enough to risk
such a prophecy as to the general tranquillity of the Continent. In
fact, the peace of Europe, broken in 1853, has been unstable enough
ever since, and from time to time tremendous wars have shaken it.
Into none of these, however, has Great Britain been again entrapped,
though the sympathies of its people have often been warmly enlisted
on this side and that. A war with China, which began in 1857, and
cannot be said to have ended till 1860, though in the interim a
treaty was signed which secured just a year's cessation of
hostilities, was the most important undertaking in which the allied
forces of France and England took part after the Crimea. In this war
the allies were victorious, as at that date any European Power was
tolerably certain to be in a serious contest with China. The closing
act of the conflict--the destruction of the Summer Palace at Pekin,
in retaliation for the treacherous murder of several French and
English prisoners of distinction--was severely blamed at the time,
but defended on the ground that only in this way could any effectual
punishment of the offence be obtained. That act of vengeance and the
war which it closed have an interest of their own in connection with
the late General Gordon, who now entered on that course of
extraordinary achievement which lacks a parallel in this century, and
which began, in the interests of Chinese civilisation, shortly after
he had taken a subordinate officer's part in the work of destruction
at Pekin.

From this date England did not commit itself to any of the singular
series of enterprises which our good ally, the French Emperor, set on
foot. A feeling of distrust towards that potentate was invading the
minds of the very Englishmen who had most cordially hailed his
successes and met his advances. "The Emperor's mind is as full of
schemes as a warren is full of rabbits, and, like rabbits, his
schemes go to ground for the moment to avoid notice or antagonism,"
were the strong words of Lord Palmerston in a confidential letter of
1860; and when he could thus think and write, small wonder if calmer
and more unprejudiced minds saw need for standing on their guard.
Amid all the flattering demonstrations of friendship of which the
French court had been lavish, and which had been gracefully
reciprocated by English royality, the Prince Consort had retained an
undisturbed perception of much that was not quite satisfactory in the
qualifications of the despotic chief of the French State for his
difficult post. Thus it is without surprise that we find the Queen
writing in 1859, as to a plan suggested by the Emperor: "The whole
scheme is the often-attempted one, that England should take the
chestnuts from the fire, and assume the responsibility of making
proposals which, if they lead to war, we should be in honour bound to
support by arms." The Emperor had once said of Louis Philippe, that
he had fallen "because he was not sincere with England"; it looked
now as though he were steering full on the same rock, for his own
sincerity was flawed by dangerous reservations.

England remained an interested spectator, but a spectator only, while
the French ruler played that curiously calculated game of his, which
did so much towards insuring the independence of Italy and its
consolidation into one free monarchy. It was no disinterested game,
as the cession of Nice and Savoy to France by Piedmont would alone
have proved. It was daring to the point of rashness; for as a French
general of high rank said, there needed but the slightest check to
the French arms, and "it was all up with the dynasty!" Yet the "idea"
which furnished the professed motive for the Emperor's warlike action
was one dear to English sympathies, and many an English heart
rejoiced in the solid good secured for Italy, though without our
national co-operation. There was a proud compensating satisfaction in
the knowledge that, when a crisis of unexampled and terrible
importance had come in our own affairs, England had perforce dealt
with it single-handed and with supreme success.

Those who can remember the fearful summer of 1857 can hardly recall
its wild events without some recurrence of the thrill of horror that
ran through the land, as week after week the Indian news of mutiny
and massacre reached us. It was a surprise to the country at large,
more than to the authorities, who were informed already that a spirit
of disaffection had been at work among our native troops in Bengal,
and that there was good reason to believe in the existence of a
conspiracy for sapping the allegiance of these troops. Later events
have left little doubt that such a conspiracy did exist, and that its
aim was the total subversion of British power. Our advance in
Hindostan had been rapid, the changes following on it many, and not
always such as the Oriental mind could understand or approve. Early
in the reign, in 1847, an energetic Governor-General, Lord Dalhousie,
went out to India, who introduced railways, telegraphs, and cheap
postage, set on foot a system of native education, and vigorously
fought the ancient iniquities of suttee, thuggee, and child-murder.
Perhaps his aggressive energy worked too fast, too fierily; perhaps
his peremptory reforms, not less than his high-handed annexations of
the Punjaub, Oude, and other native States, awakened suspicion in the
mind of the Hindoo, bound as he was by the immemorial fetters of
caste, and dreading with a shuddering horror innovations that might
interfere with its distinctions; for to lose caste was to be outlawed
among men and accursed in the sight of God.

[Illustration: Lord Canning.]

Lord Canning, the successor of Lord Dalhousie, entered on his
governor-generalship at a moment full of "unsuspected peril"; for the

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