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Great Britain and Her Queen by Anne E. Keeling

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disaffected in Hindostan had so misread the signs of the times as to
believe that England's sun was stooping towards its setting, and that
the hour had come in which a successful blow could be struck, against
the foreign domination of a people alien in faith as in blood from
Mohammedan and Buddhist and Brahmin, and apt to treat all alike with
the scorn of superiority. A trivial incident, which was held no
trifle by the distrustful Sepoys, proved to be the spark that kindled
a vast explosion. The cartridges supplied for use with the Enfield
rifle, introduced into India in 1856, were greased; and the end would
have to be bitten off when the cartridge was used. A report was
busily circulated among the troops that the grease used was cow's fat
and hog's lard, and that these substances were employed in pursuance
of a deep-laid design to deprive every soldier of his caste by
compelling him to taste these defiling things. Such compulsion would
hardly have been less odious to a Mussulman than to a Hindoo; for
swineflesh is abominable to the one, and the cow a sacred animal to
the other. Whoever devised this falsehood intended to imply a subtle
intention on the part of England to overthrow the native religions,
which it was hoped the maddened soldiery would rise to resist. The
mischief worked as was desired. In vain the obnoxious cartridges were
withdrawn from use; in vain the Governor-General issued a
proclamation warning the army of Bengal against the falsehoods that
were being circulated. Mysterious signals, little cakes of unleavened
bread called _chupatties_, were being distributed, as the spring of
1857 went on, throughout the native villages under British rule,
doing the office of the _Fiery Cross_ among the Scotch Highlanders of
an earlier day; and in May the great Mutiny broke out.

Some of the Bengal cavalry at Meerut had been imprisoned for refusing
to use their cartridges; their comrades rose in rebellion, fired on
their officers, released the prisoners, and murdered some Europeans.
The British troops rallied and repulsed the mutineers, who fled to
Delhi, unhappily reached it in safety, and required and obtained the
protection of the feeble old King, the last of the Moguls, there
residing. Him they proclaimed their Emperor, and avowed the intention
of restoring his dynasty to its ancient supremacy. The native troops
in the city and its environs at once prepared to join them; and thus
from a mere mutiny, such as had occurred once and again before, the
rising assumed the character of a vast revolutionary war. For a
moment it seemed that our hard-won supremacy in the East was
disappearing in a sea of blood. The foe were numerous, fanatical, and
ruthless; we ourselves had trained and disciplined them for war; the
sympathies of their countrymen were very largely with them. Yet, with
incredible effort and heroism more than mortal, the small and
scattered forces of England again snatched the mastery from the hands
of the overwhelming numbers arrayed against them.

[Illustration: Sir Colin Campbell.]

One name has obtained an immortality of infamy in connection with
this struggle--that of the Nana Sahib, who by his hideous treachery
at Cawnpore took revenge on confiding Englishmen and women for
certain wrongs inflicted on him in regard to the inheritance of his
adopted father by the last Governor-General. But many other names
have been crowned with deathless honour, the just reward of
unsurpassed achievement, of supreme fidelity and valour, at a crisis
under which feeble natures would have fainted and fallen. Of these
are Lord Canning himself, the noble brothers John and Henry Lawrence,
the Generals Havelock, Outram, and Campbell, and others whom space
forbids us even to name.

The Governor-General remained calm, resolute, and intrepid amidst the
panic and the rage which shook Calcutta when the first appalling news
of the Mutiny broke upon it. He disdained the cruel counsels of fear,
and steadily refused to confound the innocent with the guilty among
the natives; but he knew where to strike, and when, and how. On his
own responsibility he stayed the British troops on their way to the
scene of war in China, and made them serve the graver, more immediate
need of India, doing it with the concurrence of Lord Elgin, the envoy
responsible for the Chinese business; and he poured his forces on
Delhi, the heart of the insurrection, resolving to make an end of it
there before ever reinforcement direct from England could come. After
a difficult and terrible siege, the place was carried by storm on
September 20th, 1857--an achievement that cost many noble lives, and
chief among them that of the gallant Nicholson, a soldier whose mind
and character seem to have made on all who knew him an impression as
of supernatural grandeur.

Five days later General Havelock and his little band of heroes--some
one thousand Englishmen who had marched with him from Allahabad,
recaptured by Neill for England, and on to ghastly Cawnpore--arrived
at Lucknow, and relieved the slender British force which since May
had been holding the Residency against the fierce and ever-renewed
assaults of the thousands of rebels who poured themselves upon it. He
came in time to save many a brave life that should yet do good
service; but the noblest Englishman of them all, the gentle,
dauntless, chivalrous Sir Henry Lawrence, Governor of Oude, had died
from wounds inflicted by a rebel shell many weeks before, and lay
buried in the stronghold for whose safe keeping he had continued to
provide in the hour and article of death. His spirit, however, seemed
yet to actuate the survivors. Havelock's march had been one
succession of victories won against enormous odds, and half
miraculous; but even he could work no miracle, and his troops might
merely have shared a tragic fate with the long-tried defenders of
Lucknow, but for the timely arrival of Sir Colin Campbell with five
thousand men more, to relieve in his turn the relieving force and
place all the Europeans in Lucknow in real safety. The news was
received in England with a delight that was mingled with mourning for
the heroic and saintly Havelock, who sank and died on November 24th.
A soldier whose military genius had passed unrecognised and almost
unemployed while men far his inferiors were high in command, he had
so more than profited by the opportunity for doing good service when
it came, that in a few months his name had become one of the dearest
in every English home, a glory and a joy for ever. It is rarely that
a career so obscured by adverse fortune through all its course blazes
into such sunset splendour just at the last hour of life's day.

[Illustration: Henry Havelock.]

Those months which made the fame of Havelock had been filled with
crime and horror. The first reports of Sepoy outrages which
circulated in England were undoubtedly exaggerated, but enough
remains of sickening truth as to the cruelties endured by English
women and children at the hand of the mutineers to account for the
fury which filled the breasts of their avenging countrymen, and
seemed to lend them supernatural strength and courage, and, alas! in
some instances, to merge that courage in ferocity. Delhi had been
deeply guilty, when the mutineers seized it, in respect of inhuman
outrage on the helpless non-combatants; but the story of Cawnpore is
darker yet, and is still after all these years fresh in our memories.
A peculiar blackness of iniquity clings about it. That show of amity
with which the Nana Sahib responded to the summons of Sir Hugh
Wheeler, the hard-pressed commanding officer in the city, only that
he might act against him; those false promises by which the little
garrison, unconquerable by any force, was beguiled to give itself up
to mere butchery; the long captivity of the few scores of women and
children who survived the general slaughter, only, after many dreary
days of painful suspense, to be murdered in their prison-house as
Havelock drew near the gates of Cawnpore: all these circumstances of
especial horror made men regard their chief instigator rather as one
of the lower fiends masquerading in human guise than as a
fellow-creature moved by any motives common to men. It was perhaps
well for the fair fame of Englishmen that the Nana never fell into
their hands, but saved himself by flight before the soldiers of
Havelock had looked into the slaughter-house all strewn with relics
of his victims and grimly marked with signs of murder, or had gazed
shuddering at the dreadful well choked up with the corpses of their
countrywomen. It required more than common courage, justice, and
humanity, to withstand the wild demand for mere indiscriminating
revenge which these things called forth. Happily those highest in
power did possess these rare qualities. Lord Canning earned for
himself the nickname of "Clemency Canning" by his perfect
resoluteness to hold the balance of justice even, and unweighted by
the mad passion of the hour. Sir John (afterwards Lord) Lawrence, the
Chief Commissioner of the Punjaub, who, with his able subordinates,
had saved that province at the very outset, and thereby in truth
saved India, was equally firm in mercy and in justice. The Queen
herself, who had very early appreciated the gravity of the situation
and promoted to the extent of her power the speedy sending of aid and
reinforcement from England, thoroughly endorsed the wise and clement
policy of the Governor-General. Replying to a letter of Lord
Canning's which deplored "the rabid and indiscriminate vindictiveness
abroad," Her Majesty wrote these words, which we will give ourselves
the pleasure to quote entire:--

[Illustration: Sir John Lawrence.]

"Lord Canning will easily believe how entirely the Queen shares his
feelings of sorrow and indignation at the unchristian spirit, shown,
alas! also to a great extent here by the public, towards Indians in
general, and towards Sepoys _without discrimination!_ It is, however,
not likely to last, and comes from the horror produced by the
unspeakable atrocities perpetrated against the innocent women and
children, which make one's blood run cold and one's heart bleed! For
the perpetrators of these awful horrors no punishment can be severe
enough; and sad as it is, _stern_ justice must be dealt out to all
the guilty.

"But to the nation at large, to the peaceable inhabitants, to the
many kind and friendly natives who have assisted us, sheltered the
fugitive, and been faithful and true, there should be shown the
greatest kindness. They should know that there is no hatred to a
brown skin--none; but the greatest wish on their Queen's part to see
them happy, contented, and flourishing."

These words well became the sovereign who, by serious and cogent
argument, had succeeded in inducing her Ministers to strike strongly
and quickly on the side of law and order, they having been at first
inclined to adopt a "step-by-step" policy as to sending out aid,
which would not have been very grateful to the hard-pressed
authorities in India; while the Queen and the Prince shared Lord
Canning's opinion, that "nothing but a long continued manifestation
of England's might before the eyes of the whole Indian empire,
evinced by the presence of such an English force as should make the
thought of opposition hopeless, would re-establish confidence in her

The necessary manifestation of strength was made; the reputation of
England--so rudely shaken, not only in the opinion of ignorant
Hindoos, but in that of her European rivals--was re-established
fully, and indeed gained by the power she had shown to cope with an
unparalleled emergency. The counsels of vengeance were set aside, in
spite of the obloquy which for a time was heaped on the true wisdom
which rejected them. We did not "dethrone Christ to set up Moloch";
had we been guilty of that sanguinary folly, England and India might
yet be ruing that year's doing. On the contrary, certain changes
which did ensue in direct consequence of the Mutiny were productive
of undoubted good.

It was recognised that the "fiction of rule by a trading company" in
India must now be swept away; one of the very earliest effects of the
outbreak had been to open men's eyes to the weak and sore places of
that system. In 1858 an "Act for the better Government of India" was
passed, which transferred to Her Majesty all the territories formerly
governed by the East India Company, and provided that all the powers
it had once wielded should now be exercised in her name, and that its
military and naval forces should henceforth be deemed her forces. The
new Secretary of State for India, with an assistant council of
fifteen members, was entrusted with the care of Indian interests
here; the Viceroy, or Governor-General, also assisted by a council,
was to be supreme in India itself. The first viceroy who represented
the majesty of England to the Queen's Indian subjects was the
statesman who had safely steered us through the imminent, deadly
peril of the Mutiny, and whom right feeling and sound policy alike
designated as the only fit wearer of this honour. Under the new
regime race and class prejudices have softened, education is
spreading swiftly, native oppression is becoming more difficult, as
improved communications bring the light of day into the remoter
districts of the immense peninsula. The public mind of England has
never quite relapsed into its former scornful indifference to the
welfare of India; rather, that welfare has been regarded with much
keener interest, and the nation has become increasingly alive to its
duty with regard to that mighty dependency, now one in allegiance
with ourselves. There was much of happy omen in the reception
accorded by loyal Hindoos to the Queen's proclamation when it reached
them in 1858. While the mass of the people gladly hailed the rule of
the "Empress," by whom they believed the Company "had been hanged for
great offences," there were individuals who were intelligent enough
to recognise with delight that noble character of "humanity, mercy,
and justice," which was impressed by the Queen's own agency on the
proclamation issued in her name. We may say that the joy with which
such persons accepted the new reign has been justified by events, and
that the same great principles have continued to guide all Her
Majesty's own action with regard to India, and also that of her
ablest representatives there.

We may not leave out of account, in reckoning the loss and gain of
that tremendous year, the extraordinary examples of heroism called
forth by its trials, which have made our annals richer, and have set
the ideal of English nobleness higher. The amazing achievements and
the swiftly following death of the gallant Havelock did not indeed
eclipse in men's minds the equal patriotism and success of his noble
fellows, but the tragic completeness of his story and the antique
grandeur of his character made him specially dear to his countrymen;
and the fact that he was already in his grave while the Queen and
Parliament were busy in assigning to him the honours and rewards
which his sixty years of life had hitherto lacked, added something
like remorse to the national feeling for him. But the heart of the
people swelled high with a worthy pride as we dwelt on his name and
those of the Lawrences, the Neills, the Outrams, the Campbells, and
felt that all our heroes had not died with Wellington.

Other anxieties and misfortunes had not been lacking while the fate
of British India still hung in the balance. The attitude of some
European Powers, whom the breaking forth of the Mutiny had encouraged
in the idea that England's power was waning, was full of menace,
especially in view of what the Prince Consort justly called "our
pitiable state of unpreparedness" for resisting attack. Prompted by
him, the Queen caused close inquiry to be made into the state of our
home defences and of the navy--the first step towards remedying the
deficiencies therein existing. Also a "cold wave" seemed to be
passing over the commercial community in England; the year 1857 being
marked by very great financial depression, which affected more or
less every department of our industries. In connection with this
calamity, however, there was at least one hopeful feature: the very
different temper which the working classes, then, as always, the
greatest sufferers by such depression, manifested in the time of
trial. They showed themselves patient and loyal, able to understand
that their employers too had evils to endure and difficulties to
surmount; they no longer held all who were their superiors in station
for their natural enemies: a happy change, testifying to the good
worked by the new, beneficent spirit of legislation and reform.

It is under the date of this year that we find Mr. Greville, on the
authority of Lord Clarendon, thus describing the very thorough and
"eminently useful" manner in which the Queen, assisted by the Prince,
was exercising her high functions:--

"She held each Minister to the discharge of his duty and his
responsibility to her, and constantly desired to be furnished with
accurate and detailed information about all important matters,
keeping a record of all the reports that were made to her, and
constantly referring to them; _e.g._, she would desire to know what
the state of the navy was, and what ships were in readiness for
active service, and generally the state of each, ordering returns to
be submitted to her from all the arsenals and dockyards, and again,
weeks or months afterwards, referring to these returns, and desiring
to have everything relating to them explained and accounted for, and
so throughout every department....This is what none of her
predecessors ever did, and it is, in fact, the act of Prince Albert."

We turn from this picture of the Sovereign's habitual occupations to
her public life, and we find it never more full of apparently
absorbing excitements--splendid hospitalities exchanged with other
Powers, especially with Imperial France, alternating with messages of
encouragement, full of cordiality and grace, to her successful
commander-in-chief in India, Sir Colin Campbell, with plans for the
conspicuous rewarding of the Indian heroes at large, with public
visits to various great English towns, and with preparations for the
impending marriage of the Princess Royal; and we realise forcibly
that even in those sunny days, when the Queen was surrounded with her
unbroken family of nine blooming and promising children, and still
had at her right hand the invaluable counsellor by whose aid England
was governed with a wisdom and energy all but unprecedented, her
position was so far from a sinecure that no subject who had his daily
bread to gain by his wits could have worked much harder.



[Illustration: Windsor Castle.]

IT has been the Queen's good fortune to see her own true-love match
happily repeated in the marriages of her children. One would almost
say that the conspicuous success of that union, the blessing that it
brought with it to the nation, had set a new fashion to royalty.
There is quite a romantic charm about the first marriage which broke
the royal home-circle of England--that of the Queen's eldest child
and namesake, Victoria, Princess Royal, with Prince Frederick
William, eldest son of the then Prince of Prussia, whose exaltation
to the imperial throne of Germany lay dimly and afar--if not
altogether undreamed of by some prophetic spirits--in the future. The
bride and bridegroom had first met, when the youth was but nineteen
and the maiden only ten, at the great Peace Festival, the opening of
the first Exhibition. Already the charming grace and rare
intelligence of the Princess had attracted attention; and it is on
record that at this early period some inkling of a possible
attraction between the two had entered one observer's mind, who also
notes that the young Prince, greatly interested by all he saw of free
England and its rulers, was above all taken with the "perfect
domestic happiness which he found pervading the heart, and core, and
focus of the greatest empire in the world." Four years later the
Prince was again visiting England, a guest of the royal family in its
Scottish retreat of Balmoral, where they had just been celebrating
with beacon fires and Highland mirth and music the glad news of the
fall of Sebastopol. He had the full consent of his own family for his
wooing, but the parents of his lady would have had him keep silence
at least till the fifteen-year-old maiden should be confirmed. The
ease and unconstraint of that mountain home-life, however, were not
very favourable to reserve and reticence; a spray of white heather,
offered and received as the national emblem of good fortune, was made
the flower symbol of something more, and words were spoken that
effectually bound the two young hearts, though the formal betrothal
was deferred until some time after the Princess, in the following
March, had received the rite of Confirmation; and "the actual
marriage," said the Prince Consort, "cannot be thought of till the
seventeenth birthday is past." "The secret must be kept _tant bien
que mal_," he had written, well knowing that it would be a good deal
of an open secret.

[Illustration: Prince Frederick William.]

[Illustration: Princess Royal.]

The engagement was publicly announced in May, 1857, and though, when
first rumoured, it had been coldly looked on by the English public,
now it was accepted with great cordiality. The Prince was openly
associated with the royal family; he and his future bride appeared as
sponsors at the christening of our youngest Princess, Beatrice; he
rode with the Prince Consort beside the Queen when she made the first
distribution of the Victoria Cross, and was a prominent and heartily
welcomed member of the royal group which visited the Art Treasures
Exhibition of Manchester. The marriage, which was in preparation all
through the grim days of 1857, was celebrated with due splendour on
January 25th, 1858, and awakened a universal interest which was not
even surpassed when, five years later, the heir to the throne was
wedded. "Down to the humblest cottage," said the Prince Consort, "the
marriage has been regarded as a family affair." And not only this
splendid and entirely successful match, but every joy or woe that has
befallen the highest family in the land, has been felt as "a family
affair" by thousands of the lowly. This is the peculiar glory of the
present reign.

[Illustration: Charles Kingsley. _From a Photograph by_ Elliott &

Happy and auspicious as this marriage was, it was nevertheless the
first interruption to the pure home bliss that hitherto had filled
"the heart of the greatest empire in the world." The Princess Royal,
with her "man's head and child's heart," had been the dear companion
of the father whose fine qualities she inherited, and had largely
shared in his great thoughts. Nor was she less dear to her mother,
who had sedulously watched over the "darling flower," admiring and
approving her "touching and delightful" filial worship of the Prince
Consort, and who followed with longing affection every movement of
the dear child now removed from her sheltering care, and making her
own way and place in a new world. There she has indeed proved
herself, as she pledged herself to do, "worthy to be her mother's
child," following her parents in the path of true philanthropy and
gentle human care for the suffering and the lowly. So far the ancient
prophecy has been well fulfilled which promised good fortune to
Prussia and its rulers when the heir of the reigning house should wed
a princess from sea-girt Britain. But the wedding so propitious for
Germany seemed almost the beginning of sorrows for English royalty.
Other betrothals and marriages of the princes and princesses ensued;
but the still lamented death of the Prince Consort intervened before
one of those betrothals culminated in marriage.

Another event which may be called domestic belongs to the year
following this marriage--the coming of age of the Prince of Wales,
fixed, according to English use and wont, when the heir of the crown
completes his eighteenth year. Every educational advantage that
wisdom or tenderness could suggest had been secured for the Prince.
We may note in passing that one of his instructors was the Rev.
Charles Kingsley, whom Prince Albert had engaged to deliver a series
of lectures on history to his son. This honour, as well as that of
his appointment as one of Her Majesty's chaplains, was largely due to
royal recognition of the practical Christianity, so contagious in its
fervour, which distinguished Mr. Kingsley, not less than his great
gifts; of his eagerness "to help in lifting the great masses of the
people out of the slough of ignorance and all its attendant suffering
and vice"--an object peculiarly dear to the Queen and to the Prince,
as had been consistently shown on every opportunity.

When the time came that the youth so carefully trained should be
emancipated from parental control, it was announced to him by the
Queen in a letter characterised by Mr. Greville or his informant as
"one of the most admirable ever penned. She tells him," continues the
diarist, "that he may have thought the rule they adopted for his
education a severe one, but that his welfare was their only object;
and well knowing to what seductions of flattery he would eventually
be exposed, they wished to prepare and strengthen his mind against
them; that he was now to consider himself his own master, and that
they should never intrude any advice upon him, although always ready
to give it him whenever he thought fit to seek it. It was a very long
letter, all in that tone; and it seems to have made a profound
impression on the Prince.... The effect it produced is a proof of the
wisdom that dictated its composition."

We have chosen this as a true typical instance of the blended
prudence and tenderness that have marked the relations between our
Sovereign and her children. Aware what a power for good or evil the
characters of those children must have on the fortunes of very many
others, she and her husband sedulously surrounded them with every
happy and healthy influence, never forgetting the supreme need of due
employment for their energies. "Without a vocation," said the Prince
Consort, "man is incapable of complete development and real
happiness": his sons have all had their vocation.

It was the same period, marked by these domestic passages of mingled
joy and sorrow, that became memorable in another way, through the
various troublous incidents which gave an extraordinary impetus to
our national Volunteer movement, which were not remotely connected
with the War of Italian Independence, and for a short time overthrew
the popular Ministry of Lord Palmerston, who was replaced in office
by Lord Derby. The futile plot of Felice Orsini, an Italian exile and
patriot, against the life of Louis Napoleon, provoked great anger
among the Imperialists of France against England, the former asylum
of Orsini. A series of violent addresses from the French army,
denouncing Great Britain as a mere harbour of assassins, did but give
a more exaggerated form to the representations of French diplomacy,
urging the amendment of our law, which appeared incompetent to touch
murderous conspirators within our borders so long as their plots
regarded only foreign Powers. The tone of France was deemed insolent
and threatening; Lord Palmerston, who, in apparent deference to it,
introduced a rather inefficient measure against conspiracy to murder,
fell at once to the nadir of unpopularity, and soon had no choice but
to resign; and the Volunteer movement in England--which had been
begun in 1852, owing to the sinister changes that then took place in
the French Government--now at once assumed the much more important
character it has never since lost. The immense popularity of this
movement and its rapid spread formed a significant reply to the
insensate calls for vengeance on England which had risen from the
French army, and which seemed worthy of attention in view of the vast
increase now made in the naval strength of France, and of other
preparations indicating that the Emperor meditated a great military
enterprise. That enterprise proved to be the war with Austria which
did so much for Italy, and which some observers were disposed to
connect with the plot of Orsini--a rough reminder to the Emperor,
they said, that he was trifling with the cause of Italian unity, to
which he was secretly pledged. But Englishmen were slow to believe in
such designs on the part of the French ruler. "How should a despot
set men free?" was their thought, interpreted for them vigorously
enough by an anonymous poet of the day; and they enrolled themselves
in great numbers for national defence. With this movement there might
be some evils mixed, but its purely defensive and manly character
entitles it on the whole to be reckoned among the better influences
of the day.

[Illustration: Lord Palmerston.]

Palmerston's discredit with his countrymen was of short duration, as
was his exile from office; he was Premier again in the June of 1859,
and was thenceforth "Prime Minister for life." His popularity, which
had been for some time increasing, remained now quite unshaken until
his death in 1865. Before Lord Derby's Government fell, however, a
reform had been carried which could not but have been extremely
grateful to Mr. Disraeli, then the Ministerial leader of the House of
Commons. The last trace of the disabilities under which the Jews in
England had laboured for many generations was now removed, and the
Baron Lionel de Rothschild was able quietly to take his seat as one
of the members for the City of London. The disabilities in question
had never interfered with the ambition or the success of Mr.
Disraeli, who at a very early age had become a member of the
Christian Church. But his sympathies had never been alienated from
the own people, with whom indeed he had always proudly identified
himself by bold assertion of their manifold superiority. There are
still, undoubtedly, persons in this country whose convictions lead
them to think it anything but a wholesome change which has admitted
among our legislators men, however able and worthy, who disclaim the
name of _Christian_. But the change was brought about by the
conviction, which has steadily deepened among us, that oppression of
those of a different faith from our own, either by direct severities
or by the withholding of civil rights, is a singularly poor weapon of
conversion, and that the adversaries of Christianity are more likely
to be conciliated by being dealt with in a Christlike spirit;
further, that religious opinion may not be treated as a crime,
without violation of God's justice. On the point as to the claim of
_irreligious_ opinion to similar consideration, the national feeling
cannot be called equally unanimous. In the case of the English Jews,
it may be said that the tolerant and equal conduct adopted towards
them has been well requited; the ancient people of God are not here,
as in lands where they are trampled and trodden down, an offence and
a trouble, the cause of repeated violent disturbance and the object
of a frenzied hate, always deeply hurtful to those who entertain it.

Other changes and other incidents that now occurred engrossed a
greater share of the public attention than this measure of relief.
The rapid march of events in Italy had been watched with eager
interest, divided partly by certain ugly outbreaks of Turkish
fanaticism in Syria, and by our proceedings in the Ionian islands,
which finally resulted in the quiet transfer of those isles to the
kingdom of Greece. The commercial treaty with France effected,
through the agency of Mr. Cobden, on Free Trade lines, and Mr.
Gladstone's memorable success in carrying the repeal of the paper
duty, and thereby immensely facilitating journalistic enterprise,
were hailed with great delight as beneficial and truly progressive
measures. But events of a more gigantic character now took place,
which at the moment affected our prosperity more directly than
any fiscal reform, and appealed more powerfully to us than the
savagery of our Turkish _proteges_ or even than the union of
Italy under Victor Emmanuel into one free and friendly State. The
long-smouldering dissensions between the Northern and Southern States
of the American Union at last broke into flame, and war was declared
between them, in 1861.

The burning question of slavery was undoubtedly at the bottom of this
contest, which has been truly described as a struggle for life
between the "peculiar institution" and the principles of modern
society. The nobler and more enthusiastic spirits in the Northern
States beheld in it a strife between Michael and Satan, the Spirit of
Darkness hurling himself against the Spirit of Light in a vain and
presumptuous hope to overpower him; and their irritation was great
when an eminent English man of letters was found describing it
scornfully as "the burning of a dirty chimney," and when English
opinion, speaking through very many journalists and public men,
appeared half hostile to the Northern cause. Indeed, it might have
been thought that opinion in England--England, which at a great cost
had freed its own slaves, and which had never ceased by word and deed
to attack slavery and the slave-trade--would not have faltered for a
moment as to the party it would favour, but would have declared
itself massively against the slave-holding South. But the contest at
its outset was made to wear so doubtful an aspect that it was
possible, unhappily possible, for many Englishmen of distinction to
close their eyes to the great evils championed by the Southern
troops. The war was not avowedly made by the North for the
suppression of slavery, but to prevent the Southern States from
withdrawing themselves from the Union: the Southerners on their side
claimed a constitutional right so to withdraw if it pleased them, and
denounced the attempt to retain them forcibly as a tyranny.

[Illustration: Abraham Lincoln and his son.]

This false colouring at first given to the contest had mischievous
results. English feeling was embittered by the great distress in our
manufacturing districts, directly caused up the action of the
Northern States in blockading the Southern ports, and thus cutting
off our supply of raw material in the shape of cotton. On its side
the North, which had calculated securely on English sympathy and
respect, and was profoundly irritated by the many displays of a
contrary feeling; and the exasperation on both sides more than once
reached a point which made war appear almost inevitable--a war above
all others to be deprecated. First came the affair of the
_Trent_--the English mail-steamer from which two Southern envoys
were carried off by an American naval commander, in contempt of the
protection of the British flag. The action was technically illegal,
and on the demand of the English Government its illegality was
acknowledged, and the captives were restored; but the warlike and
threatening tone of England on this occasion was bitterly resented at
the North, and this resentment was greatly increased when it became
known that various armed cruisers, in particular the notorious
_Alabama_, designed to prey on the Northern commerce, were being
built and fitted by English shipbuilders in English dockyards under
the direction of the Southern foe, while the English Government could
not decide if it were legally competent for Her Majesty's Ministers
to interfere and detain such vessels. The tardy action at last taken
just prevented the breaking out of hostilities. Out of these
unfortunate transactions a certain good was to ensue at a date not
far distant, when, after the restoration of peace, America and
England, disputing as to the compensation due from one to the other
for injuries sustained in this matter, gave to the world the great
example of two nations submitting a point so grave to peaceful
arbitration, instead of calling in the sword to make an end of it--an
example more nearly pointing to the possible extinction of war than
any other event of the world's history.

Yet another hopeful feature may be noted in connection with this time
of trouble. While the Secession war lasted, "the cotton famine" had
full sway in Lancashire; unwonted and unwelcome light and stillness
replaced the dun clouds of smoke and the busy hum that used to tell
of fruitful, well-paid industry; and the patient people, haggard and
pale but sadly submissive, were kept, and just kept, from starving by
the incessant charitable effort of their countrymen. Never had the
attitude of the suffering working classes shown such genuine
nobility; they understood that the calamity which lay heavy on them
was not brought about by the careless and selfish tyranny of their
worldly superiors, but came in the order of God's providence; and
their conduct at this crisis proved that an immense advance had been
made in kindliness between class and class, and in true intelligence
and appreciation of the difficulties proper to each. It was
significant of this new temper that when at last peace returned,
bringing some gleam of returning prosperity, the workers, who greeted
with joyful tears the first bales of cotton that arrived, fell on
their knees around the hopeful things and sang hymns of thanksgiving
to the Author of all good.

Such were the fruits of that new policy of care and consideration for
the toilers and the lowly which had increasingly marked the new
epoch, and which had been sedulously promoted by the Queen, in
association with her large-thoughted and well-judging husband.

It was in the midst of the troubles which we have just attempted to
recall that a new and greater calamity came upon us, affecting the
royal family indeed with the sharpest distress, but hardly less felt,
even at the moment, by the nation.

The year 1861 had already been darkened for Her Majesty by the death
in the month of March, of her mother, the Duchess of Kent, to whose
wise guardianship of the Queen's youth the nation owed so much, and
who had ever commanded the faithful affection of this her youngest
but greatest child, and of all her descendants. This death was the
first stroke of real personal calamity to the Queen; it was destined
to be followed by another bereavement, even severer in its nature,
before the year had closed. The Prince Consort's health, though
generally good, was not robust, and signs had not been wanting that
his incessant toils were beginning to tell upon him. There had been
illnesses, transitory indeed, but too significant of "overwork of
brain and body." In addition to personal griefs, such as the death of
the Duchess of Kent and of a beloved young Coburg prince and kinsman,
the King of Portugal, which had been severely felt, there were the
unhappy complications arising out of "the affair of the _Trent_,"
which the Prince's statesmanlike wisdom had helped to bring to a
peaceful and honourable conclusion. That wisdom, unhappily, was no
longer at the service of England when a series of negligences and
ignorances on the part of England's statesmen had landed us in the
_Alabama_ difficulty.

All these agitations had told upon a frame which was rather
harmoniously and finely than vigorously constituted. "If I had an
illness," he had been known to say, "I am sure I should not struggle
for life. I have no tenacity of life." And in the November of 1861 an
illness came against which he was not able to struggle, but which
took all the country by surprise when, on December 14th, it
terminated in death. Very many had hardly been aware that there was
danger until the midnight tolling of the great bell of St. Paul's
startled men with an instant foreboding of disaster. _What_ disaster
it was that was thus knelled forth they knew not, and could hardly
believe the tidings when given in articulate words.

At first it had been said, the Prince had a feverish cold; presently
the bulletin announced "fever, unattended with unfavourable
symptoms." It was gastric fever, and before long there _were_
unfavourable symptoms--pallid changes in the aspect, hurried
breathing, wandering senses--all noted with heart-breaking anxiety by
the loving nurses, the Queen and Princess Alice--the daughter so
tender and beloved, the "dear little wife," the "good little wife,"
whose ministerings were so comfortable to the sufferer overwearied
with the great burden of life. He was released from it at ten minutes
to eleven on the night of Saturday, December 14th; and there fell on
her to whom his last conscious look had been turned, his last caress
given, a burden of woe almost unspeakable, and for which the heart of
the nation throbbed with well-nigh unbearable sympathy. Seldom has
the personal grief of a sovereign been so keenly shared by subjects.
Indeed, they had cause to lament; the removal of the Prince Consort,
just when his faculties seemed ripest and his influence most assured,
left a blank in the councils of the nation which has never been
filled up. "We have buried our _king_" said Mr. Disraeli, regretting
profoundly this national loss; but for once the English people forgot
the public deprivation in compassionating her who was left more
conspicuously lonely, more heavily burdened, than even the poor
bereaved colliers' wives in the North for whom _her_ compassion was
so quick and so sharply sympathetic. Something remorseful mingled
then, and may mingle now, with the affection felt for this lost
benefactor, who had not only been somewhat jealously eyed by certain
classes on his first coming, but who had suffered much silently from
misunderstanding and also from deliberate misrepresentation, and only
by patient continuance in well-doing had at last won the favour which
was his rightful due.

"That which we have we prize not to the worth
While we enjoy it; but being lacked and lost,
Why, then we rack the value, then we find
The virtue that possession would not show us
While it was ours."

A peculiar tenderness was ever after cherished for Princess Alice,
who in this dark hour rose up to be her mother's comforter,
endeavouring in every way possible to save her all trouble--"all
communications from the Ministers and household passed through the
Princess's hands to the Queen, then bowed down with grief.... It was
the very intimate intercourse with the sorrowing Queen at that time
which called forth in Princess Alice that keen interest and
understanding in politics for which she was afterwards so
distinguished. The gay, bright girl suddenly developed into a wise,
far-seeing woman, living only for others."

[Illustration: Princess Alice.]

This ministering angel in the house of mourning had been already
betrothed, with her parents' full approval, to Prince Louis of Hesse;
and to him she was married on July 1st, 1862, at Osborne, very
quietly, as befitted the mournful circumstance of the royal family.
Many a heartfelt wish for her happiness followed "England's
England-loving daughter" to her foreign home, where she led a
beautiful, useful life, treading in her father's footsteps, and
continually cherished by the love of her mother; and the peculiarly
touching manner of her death, a sort of martyrdom to sweet domestic
affections, again stirred the heart of her own people to mournful
admiration. A cottager's wife might have died as Princess Alice died,
through breathing in the poison of diphtheria as she hung, a
constant, loving nurse, over the pillows of her suffering husband and
children. This beautiful _homeliness_ that has marked the lives of
our Sovereign and her children has been of inestimable value, raising
simple human virtues to their proper pre-eminence before the eyes of
the English people of to-day, who are very materially, if often
unconsciously, swayed by the example set them in high places.

In the May after Prince Consort's death the second International
Exhibition was opened, amid sad memories of the first, so joyful in
every way, and a certain sense of discouragement because the golden
days of universal peace seemed farther off than ten years before.

"Is the goal so far away?
Far, how far no tongue can say;
Let us dream our dream to-day."

Far indeed it seemed, with the fratricidal contest raging in America,
and shutting out all contributions to this World's Fair from the
United States.

[Illustration: The Mausoleum.]

The Queen had betaken herself that May to her Highland home, whose
joy seemed dead, and where her melancholy pleased itself in the
erection of a memorial cairn to the Prince on Craig Lorigan, after
she had returned from Princess Alice's wedding. But in May she had
sent for Dr. Norman Macleod, who was not only distinguished as one of
her own chaplains, but was also a friend already endeared to the
Prince and herself; and she found comfort in the counsels of that
faithful minister and loyal man, who has left some slight record of
her words. "She said she never shut her eyes to trials, but liked to
look them in the face; she would never shrink from duty, but all was
at present done mechanically; her highest ideas of purity and love
were obtained from the Prince, and God could not be displeased with
her love.... There was nothing morbid in her grief.... She said that
the Prince always believed he was to die soon, and that he often told
her that he had never any fear of death." It seemed that in this
persuasion the Prince had made haste to live up to the duties of his
difficult station to the very utmost, and "being made perfect in a
short time fulfilled a long time [Footnote]."

[Footnote: Inscription on the cairn on Craig Lorigan.]

"The more I learn about the Prince Consort," continues Dr. Macleod,
"the more I agree with what the Queen said to me about him: 'that he
really did not seem to comprehend a selfish character, or what
selfishness was.' And on whatever day his public life is revealed to
the world, I feel certain this will be recognised."

[Illustration: Dr. Norman Macleod.]

The Queen, by revealing to the world, with a kind of holy boldness,
what the Prince's public and private life was, has justified this
confidence of her faithful friend.

Early in 1863, Dr. Macleod was led by the Queen into the mausoleum
she had caused to be raised for her husband's last resting-place.
Calm and quiet she stood and looked on the beautiful sculptured image
of him she had lost: having "that within which passeth show," her
grief was tranquil. "She is so true, so genuine, I wonder not at her
sorrow; it but expresses the greatest loss that a sovereign and wife
could sustain," said the deeply moved spectator.

An event was close at hand which was to mingle a little joy in the
bitter cup so long pressed to our Sovereign's lips. The Prince of
Wales had formed an attachment to the Princess Alexandra of Denmark,
a singularly winning and lovely lady, whose popularity, ever since
her sweet face first shone on the surging crowds that shouted her
welcome into London, has seemed always at flood-tide. Faithful to her
experience and convictions, the Queen smiled gladly on the marriage
of affection between this gentle princess and the heir to the throne,
and was present as a spectator, though still wearing her sombre
weeds, at the splendid show of her son's wedding on March 10th, 1863.
"Two things have struck me much," writes Dr. Macleod, from whose
Journal we again quote: "one was the whole of the royal princesses
weeping, though concealing their tears with their bouquets, as they
saw their brother, who was to them but their 'Bertie' and their dear
father's son, standing alone waiting for his bride. The other was the
Queen's expression as she raised her eyes to heaven while her
husband's _Chorale_ was sung. She seemed to be with him alone before
the throne of God."

[Illustration: Prince of Wales. _From a Photograph by W. & D. Downey,
Ebury Street, W._]

"No possible favour can the Queen grant me, or honour bestow," said
the manly writer of these words, "beyond what the poor can give the
poor--her friendship." It is rarely that one sitting amid "the fierce
light that beats upon the throne" has been able to enjoy the simple
bliss of true, disinterested friendship with those of kindred soul
but inferior station. Such rare fortune, however, has been the
Queen's; and it is worthy of note that her special regard has been
won by persons distinguished not less by loftiness and purity of
character than by mental power or personal charm. She has not escaped
the frequent penalty of strong affection, that of being bereaved of
its objects. She has outlived earlier and later friends alike--Lady
Augusta Stanley and her husband, the beloved Dean of Westminster; the
good and beautiful Duchess of Sutherland; the two eminent Scotchmen,
Principal Tulloch and Dr. Macleod himself; and the Archbishop of
Canterbury, Dr. Tait, with his charming wife. To these might be
added, among the more eminent objects of her regard, the late poet
laureate, who shared with Macaulay the once unique privilege of
having been raised to the peerage more for transcendent ability than
for any other motive--a distinction that never would have been so
bestowed by our early Hanoverian kings, and which offers a marked
contrast to the sort of patronage with which later sovereigns have
distinguished the great writers of their time. A new spirit rules
now; of this no better evidence could be given than this recently
published testimony to the relations between Queen and poet: "Mrs.
Tennyson told us that the poet laureate likes and admires the Queen
personally very much, and enjoys conversation with her. Mrs. Tennyson
generally goes too, and says the Queen's manner towards him is
childlike and charming, and they both give their opinions freely,
even when those differ from the Queen's, which she takes with perfect
good humour, and is very animated herself [Footnote]."

[Footnote: "Anne Gilchrist: her Life and Writings." London: 1887.]

[Illustration: Princess of Wales. _From a Photograph by Walery._]



With the death of Lord Palmerston in 1865, a sort of truce in the
strife of parties, which his supremacy had secured, came to an end.
That supremacy had been imperilled for a moment when the Government
declined to make an armed intervention in the struggle between
Denmark and the German Powers in 1864. Such an intervention would
have been very popular with the English people, who could hardly know
that "all Germany would rise as one man" to repel it if it were
risked. But the English Premier's rare command of his audience in
Parliament enabled him to overcome even this difficulty; and the
gigantic series of contests on the Continent which resulted in the
consolidation of the German empire, the complete liberation of Italy,
the overthrow of Imperialism in France and of the temporal power of
the Pope even in Rome itself, went on its way without our
interference also, which would hardly have been the case had we
intermeddled in the ill-understood contention between Denmark and its
adversaries as to the Schleswig-Holstein succession.

[Illustration: Sir Robert Napier.]

That strange crime, the murder of President Lincoln, in America just
when the long contest between North and South had ended and the cause
of true freedom had triumphed, was actually fruitful of good as
regarded this country and the United States. A cry of horror went up
from all England at the news of that "most accursed assassination,"
which seemed at the moment to brand the losing cause, whose partisan
was guilty of it, with the very mark of Cain. Expressions of sympathy
with the outraged country and of admiring regret for its murdered
head were lavished by every respectable organ of opinion; while the
Queen, by writing in personal sympathy, as one widow to another, to
the bereaved wife of Lincoln, made herself, as she has often done,
the mouthpiece of her people's best feeling. Again and again has it
been manifested that America and England are in more cordial
relations with each other since the tremendous civil war than before
it. It is no matter of statecraft, but a better understanding between
two great English-speaking peoples, drawn into closer fellowship by
far more easy communication than of old.

A little war with Ashantee, not too successful, a difficulty with
Japan, some more serious troubles with New Zealand, exhaust the list
of the warlike enterprises of England in the last years of
Palmerston. In a year or two after his death we were engaged in a
brief and entirely successful campaign against the barbaric King
Theodore of Abyssinia, "a compound of savage virtue and more than
savage ambition and cruelty," who, imagining himself wronged and
slighted by England, had seized a number of British subjects, held
them in hard captivity, and treated them with such capricious cruelty
as made it very manifest that their lives were not worth an hour's
purchase. It fell to the Ministry of Mr. Disraeli, Premier on the
resignation of his colleague Lord Derby, who had displaced Earl
Russell in that office, to bring this strange potentate to reason by
force of arms. Under Sir Robert Napier's management the work was done
with remarkable precision; no English life was lost; and but few of
our soldiers were wounded; Magdala, the mountain eyrie of King
Theodore, was stormed and destroyed, and the captives, having been
surrendered under dread of the British arms, were restored to freedom
and safety. The honour of our land, imperilled by the oppression of
our subjects was triumphantly vindicated; other good was not
achieved. Theodore, unwilling to survive defeat, was found dead by
his own hand when Magdala was carried, and he was afterwards
succeeded on the Abyssinian throne by a chief who had more than all
his predecessor's vices and none of his virtues. For this
well-managed campaign Sir Robert Napier was raised to the peerage as
Lord Napier of Magdala. The swift success, the brilliant promptitude,
of his achievement are almost painful to recall to-day, in face of
another enterprise for the rescue of a British subject, conducted by
a commander not less able and resolute, at the head of troops as
daring and as enthusiastic, which was turned into a conspicuous
failure by unhappy delayings on the part of the civil authorities, in
the fatal winter of 1884-5.

[Illustration: Mr. Gladstone.]

Turning our eyes from foreign matters to the internal affairs of the
United Kingdom, we see two great leaders, Mr. Disraeli and Mr.
Gladstone--whose "long Parliamentary duel" had begun early in the
fifties of this century--outbidding each other by turns for the
public favour, and each in his different way ministering to the
popular craving for reform. With Mr. Disraeli's first appearance as
leader of the house of Commons, this rivalry entered on its most
noticeable stage; it only really ceased with the life of the
brilliant, versatile, and daring _litterateur_ and statesman who died
as Earl Beaconsfield, not very long after his last tenure of office
expired in 1880. In 1867 Mr. Disraeli, as Leader of the Lower House,
carried a measure for the reform of the franchise in England, and the
year following similar measures with regard to Ireland and Scotland.
In 1869 it was Mr. Gladstone's turn, and he introduced and carried
two remarkable Bills--one for the disestablishment of the Irish
Church, and one for the amendment of land tenure in Ireland, the
latter passing into law in August, 1870. It had long been felt as a
bitter grievance by the mass of Irishmen that the Church established
in their country should be one which did not command the allegiance
of one-sixth of its people and though opinion in England was sharply
divided as to the question of Irish disestablishment, the majority of
Englishmen undoubtedly considered the grievance to be something more
than a sentimental one, and deserving of removal. Another startling
measure of reform was the abolition of purchase in the army, carried
in the face of a reluctant House of Lords by means of a sudden
exercise of royal prerogative under advice of the Government; the
Premier announcing "that as the system of purchase was the creation
of royal regulation, he had advised the Queen to take the decisive
step of cancelling the royal warrant which made purchase legal"--a
step which, however singular, was undoubtedly legal, as was proved by
abundant evidence.

A measure which may not improbably prove to have affected the
fortunes of this country more extensively than any of those already
enumerated was the Education Bill introduced by Mr. Forster in 1870,
and designed to secure public elementary education for even the
humblest classes throughout England and Wales. Hitherto the teaching
of the destitute poor had been largely left to private charity or
piety, and in the crowded towns it had been much neglected, with the
great exception of the work done in Ragged Schools--those gallant
efforts made by unpaid Christian zeal to cope with the multitudinous
ignorance and misery of our overgrown cities. It was very slowly that
the national conscience was aroused to the peril and sin of allowing
the masses to grow up in heathen ignorance; but at last the English
State shook off its sluggish indifference to the instruction of its
poor, and became as active as it had been supine. Mr. Forster's Bill
is the measure which indicates this turning of the tide. We do not
propose now to discuss the provisions of this Act, which were sharply
canvassed at the time, and which certainly have not worked without
friction; but we may say that the stimulus then given to educational
activity, if judged by subsequent results, must be acknowledged to
have been advantageous. The system of schools under the charge of
various religious bodies, which existed before the Education Act, has
not been superseded; that indeed would have been a deep misfortune,
for it is more needed than ever; the masses of the population have
been, to an appreciable extent, reached and instructed; and we shall
not much err in connecting as cause and effect the wider instruction
with the diminution of pauperism and crime which the statistics of
recent years reveal.

The same member who honoured himself and benefited his country by
this great effort to promote the advance of the "angel Knowledge"
also introduced, in 1871, the Ballot Bill, designed to do away with
all the violence and corruption that had long disgraced Parliamentary
elections in this free land, and that showed no symptom of a tendency
to reform themselves. The new system of secret voting which was now
adopted has required, it is true, to be further purified by the
recent Corrupt Practices Bill and its stringent provisions; but no
one, whose memory is long enough to recall the tumultuous and
discreditable scenes attendant on elections under the old system,
will be inclined to deny that much that was flagrantly disgraceful as
well as dishonest has been swept away by the reforming energy of our
own day.

It is to the same period, made memorable by these internal reforms,
that we have to refer the final settlement of the long-standing
controversy between Great Britain and the United States as to the
_Alabama_ claims. We have already referred to these claims and the
peaceful though very costly manner of their adjustment. That the
award on the whole should go against us was not very grateful to the
English people; but when the natural irritation of the hour had time
to subside, the substantial justice of the decision was little
disputed. While England was thus busied in strengthening her walls
and making straight her ways, her great neighbour and rival was
passing through a very furnace of misery. The colossal-seeming
Empire, whose head was rather of strangely mingled Corinthian metal
than of fine gold, and whose iron feet were mixed with miry clay, was
tottering to its overthrow, and fell in the wild days of 1870 with a
world-awakening crash. Again it was a dispute concerning the throne
of Spain which precipitated the fall of a French sovereign. It would
seem as if interference with the affairs of its Southern neighbour
was ever to be ominous of evil to France. The first great Napoleon
had had to rue such interference; it had been disastrous to Louis
Philippe; now Louis Napoleon, making the candidature of Leopold of
Hohenzollern for the Spanish crown a pretext for war with Prussia,
forced on the strife which was to dethrone himself, to cast down his
dynasty, and to despoil France of two fair provinces, Alsace and
Lorraine, once taken from Germany, now reconquered for United
Germany. With that strife, which resulted in the exaltation of the
Prussian King, our Princess Royal's father-in-law, as German Emperor,
England had absolutely nothing to do, except to pity the fallen and
help the suffering as far as in her lay; but it awakened profoundest
interest, especially while the long siege of Paris dragged on through
the hard winter of 1870-71; hardly yet is the interest of the subject

A certain fleeting effect was produced in England by the erection of
a New Republic in France in place of the fallen Empire, while the
family of the defeated ruler--rejected by his realm more for lack of
success than for his bad government--escaped to the safety of this
country from the angry hatred of their own. A few people here began
to talk republicanism in public, and to commend the "logical
superiority" of that mode of government, oblivious of the fact that
practical Britain prefers a system, however illogical, that actually
works well, to the most beautifully reasoned but untested paper
theory. But the wild excesses of the Commune in Paris, outdoing in
horror the sufferings of the siege, quickly produced the same effect
here that was wrought in the last century by the French Reign of
Terror, and English republicanism relapsed into the dormant state
from which it had only just awakened. The dangerous illness that
attacked the Prince of Wales in the last days of 1871, calling forth
such keen anxiety throughout the land that it seemed as if thousands
of families had a son lying in imminent peril of death, showed at
once that the nation was yet loyal to the core. True prayers were
everywhere offered up in sympathy with the mother, the sister, the
wife, who watched at the bedside of the heir to the throne; and when,
on the very anniversary of the Prince Consort's death, the life that
had seemed ebbing away turned to flow upward again; a sort of sob of
relief rose from the heart of the people, who rejoiced to be able, at
a later day, to share with their Queen her solemn act of thanksgiving
for mercy shown, as she went with her restored son, her son's wife,
and her son's sons, to worship and give praise in the great cathedral
of St. Paul's.

Princess Alice, who had shared and softened the grief of her mother
ten years before, had been again at her side during all the
protracted anxiety of this winter, and had helped to nurse her
brother. The Princess's experience of nursing had been terribly
increased during the awful wars, when she had been incessantly busied
in hospital organisation and work, suffering from the sight of
suffering as a sensitive nature must, but ever toiling to lighten it;
and she had come with her children to recover a little strength in
her mother's Highland home. Thus it was that she was found at
Sandringham when her brother's illness declared itself, "fulfilling
the same priceless offices" of affection as in her maiden days, and
endearing herself the more to the English people, who grieved for her
when, in the ensuing year, a mournful accident robbed her of one
darling child, and who felt it like a personal domestic loss when in
1878 the beautiful life ended. Other royal marriages have from time
to time awakened public interest, and one, celebrated between the
Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne, heir of the dukedom of
Argyll, had just preceded the illness of the Prince and was regarded
with much more attention because no British subject since the days of
George II's legislation as to royal alliances had been deemed worthy
of such honour. But not even the more outwardly splendid match
between the Queen's sailor son, Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and the
daughter of the Czar Alexander, could eclipse in popularity the quiet
marriage, overclouded with sorrow, and the tranquil, hard-working
life of the good and gifted lady who was to die the martyr of her
true motherly and wifely devotion.

[Illustration: Lord Beaconsfield.]

[Illustration: Lord Salisbury.]

From these glimpses of the joys and troubles affecting the household
that is cherished in the heart of England, we return to the more
stormy records of our public doings. A sort of link between the two
exists in the long and very successful tour which the Prince of
Wales, some time after his restoration to health, made of the vast
Indian dominions of the crown. Extensive travels and wide
acquaintance with the great world to which Britain is bound by a
thousand ties have entered largely into the royal scheme of education
for the future King. No princes of England in former days have seen
so much of other lands as the sons of Queen Victoria; and this
particular journey is understood to have had an excellent political

Mr. Gladstone's five years' lease of power, which had been signalised
by so many important changes, came to an end in 1874, just before the
time when Sir Garnet Wolseley, sent to bring the savage King of
Ashantee to reason, returned successful to England, having snatched a
complete victory "out of the very jaws of approaching sun and fever"
on the pestilent West Coast of Africa in the early days of 1874. The
last Ministry of Mr. Disraeli, who now assumed office, was marked by
several noticeable events: the proclamation of the Queen as "Empress
of India," in formal definite recognition of the new relation between
little England and the gigantic, many-peopled realm which through
strange adventure has come directly under our Sovereign's sway; the
Russo-Turkish war, following on the evil doings in Turkey known as
the "Bulgarian atrocities," and terminating in a peace signed at
Berlin, with which the English Premier, now known as Lord
Beaconsfield, had very much to do; and the acquisition by England of
the 176,000 shares in the Suez Canal originally held by the Khedive
of Egypt--a transaction to which France, also largely interested in
the Canal, was a consenting party. To this period belong the
distressful Afghan and Zulu wars, the latter unhappily memorable by
the tragic fate that befell the young son of Louis Napoleon, a
volunteer serving with the English army. Deep sympathy was felt for
his imperial mother, widowed since 1873, and now bereaved of her only
child; and by none was her sorrow more keenly realised than by the
Queen, who herself had to mourn the loss of the beloved Princess
Alice, the first of her children to follow her father into the silent
land. The death of the Prince Louis Napoleon at the hands of savage
Zulus was severely felt by the still strong Bonapartism of France;
but Englishmen, remembering the early melancholy death of the heir of
the first Napoleon, were struck by the fatal coincidence, while they
could honestly deplore the premature extinction of so much youth,
gallantry, and hope-fulness, cast away in our own ill-starred

An agitation distinctly humanitarian and domestic had been going on
during the early years of this Ministry, which resulted in the
passing of the Merchant Shipping Bill, intended to remedy the many
wrongs to which our merchant seamen were subject, a measure almost
entirely procured by the fervent human sympathy and resoluteness of
one member of Parliament, Samuel Plimsoll; and other measures
belonging to this period, and designed to benefit the toilers of the
land principally, were initiated by the energy of the Home Secretary,
Mr. Cross. But neither the imposing foreign action of Lord
Beaconsfield's Government, nor the domestic improvements wrought
during its period of power, could maintain it in public favour. There
was great and growing distress in the country; depression of trade,
severe winters, sunless summers, all produced suffering, and
suffering discontent. An appeal to the country, made in the spring of
1880, shifted the Parliamentary majority from the Conservative to the
Liberal side. Lord Beaconsfield resigned, and Mr. Gladstone returned
to power.

The history of the Gladstone Ministry does not come well within the
scope of this work. Certain very memorable events must be touched
upon; there are dark chapters of our national story, stains and blots
on our great name, which force themselves upon us. But to follow the
Government through its years of struggle with the ever-growing bulk
of Irish difficulty, and to track it through its various enactments
designed still further to improve the condition of the English
people, would require a small volume to itself. England still
remembers the thrill, half fury, half anguish, which ran through her
at the tidings that the new Chief Secretary for Ireland, charged with
a message of peace and conciliation, had been stabbed to death within
twenty-four hours of his landing on that unhappy shore. She cannot
forego the deep instinctive feeling--so generally manifested at the
time of Lincoln's murder--that the lawless spilling of life for any
cause dishonours and discredits that cause; nor have various
subsequent efforts made to terrorise public opinion here been
differently judged.

But it was a far more cruel shock that was inflicted through the
series of ill-advised proceedings that brought about the great
disaster of Khartoum. Before we deal with these, we must glance at
the African and Afghan troubles, again breaking out and again
quieted, the first by a peace with the Boers of the Transvaal that
awakened violent discussion not yet at an end, and the second, after
some successes of the British arms, by a judicious arrangement
designed to secure the neutrality of Afghanistan, interposed by
nature as a strong, all but insurmountable, barrier between India and
Central Asia. These transactions, the theme of sharp contention at
the time, were cast into the shade by events in which we were
concerned in Egypt, our newly acquired interests in the Suez Canal
making that country far more important to us than of yore. Its
condition was very wretched, its government at once feeble and
oppressive, and, despite the joint influence which France and England
had acquired in Egyptian councils, an armed rebellion broke out,
under the leadership of Arabi Pasha. France declining to act in this
emergency, the troops and fleet of England put down this revolt
single-handed; and in their successes the Queen's third son, Arthur,
Duke of Connaught, took his part, under the orders of Sir Garnet
(afterwards Lord) Wolseley. There were again rejoicings in Balmoral,
where the Queen, with her soldierly son's young wife beside her, was
preparing to receive another bride--Princess Helen of Waldeck, just
wedded to our youngest Prince, Leopold, Duke of Albany.

But this gleam of brightness was destined to be followed by darker
disaster far than that which seemed averted for the moment. A
mightier rebellion was arising in the Soudan, a vast tract of country
annexed by the ambition of Ismail, the former Khedive of Egypt, to be
ill governed by his officials and ravaged by the slave-trade. These
evils were checked for a few years by the strong hand of Charles
George Gordon, already famous through his achievements in China, and
invested with unlimited power by Ismail; but, that potentate being
overthrown, the great Englishman left his thankless post, no longer
tenable by him. Then it seemed that chaos had come again; and a bold
and keen, though probably hypocritical, dervish, self-styled the
_Mahdi_, or Mohammedan Messiah, was able to kindle new flames of
revolt, which burned with the quenchless fury of Oriental fanaticism.
His Arab and negro soldiers made short work of the poor Egyptian
fellaheen sent to fight them, though these were under the command of
Englishmen. The army led by Hicks Pasha utterly vanished in the
deserts, as that of Cambyses did of old. The army under Baker Pasha
did not, indeed, disappear in the same mysterious manner, but it too
was routed with great slaughter.

The English Government, willing to avoid the vast task of crushing
the revolt, had counselled the abandonment of the Soudan, and the
Khedive's Ministers reluctantly acquiesced. But there were Egyptian
garrisons scattered throughout the Soudan which must not be abandoned
with the country. Above all, there was Khartoum, an important town at
the junction of the Blue and the White Nile, with a large European
settlement and an Egyptian garrison, all in pressing danger, loyal as
yet, but full of just apprehension. These troops, these officials,
these women and children, who only occupied their perilous position
through the action of the Khedive's Government, had a right to
protection--a right acknowledged by Her Majesty's Ministers; but they
wished to avoid hostilities. General Graham, left in command on the
Red Sea littoral, was allowed to take action against the Mahdi's
lieutenant who was threatening Suakim, and who was driven back with
heavy loss; but he might not follow up the victory.

[Illustration: General Gordon.]

The English Government hoped to withdraw the garrisons in safety,
without force of arms. They had been for some time urging on the
Khedive that the marvellous influence which Gordon was known to have
acquired in his old province should now be utilised, and that to
_him_ should be entrusted the herculean task of tranquillising the
Soudan, by reinstating its ancient dynasties of tribal chiefs and
withdrawing all Egyptian and European troops and officials. Their
plan was at last accepted; then Gordon, hitherto unacquainted, like
the public at large, with the Government designs, was informed of
them and invited to carry them out. He consented; and, with the
chivalric promptitude which essentially belonged to his character, he
departed the same night on his perilous errand. Passing through
Cairo, he received plenary powers from the Khedive, and went on
almost alone to Khartoum, where he was received with an overflowing
enthusiasm. But, with all his eager haste, he was too late to bring
about the desired results by peaceful means. "He should have come a
year ago," muttered his native well-wishers. Week after week and
month after month, his position in Khartoum became more perilous;
the Mahdi's power waxed greater, and his hordes drew round the city,
which long defied them, while garrison after garrison fell into their
hands elsewhere. It was in vain that General Gordon urged the
despatch of British troops, a few hundred of whom would at one time
have sufficed to turn the tide, and insure success in his enterprise.
They were still withheld; and he would not secure his own safety by
deserting the people whom his presence had induced to stand out
against the impostor and his hosts. The city endured a long, cruel
siege, and fell at last, reduced by hunger and treachery, just as a
tardily despatched British force was making its way to relieve it--a
force commanded by Lord Wolseley, who half a year before had been
protesting against the "indelible disgrace" of leaving Gordon to his
fate. He was not able even to bury his friend and comrade, slain by
the fanatic enemy when they broke into the city in the early morning
of January 26th, 1885.

[Illustration: Duke of Albany. _From a Photograph by A. BASSANO, Bond
Street, W._]

"I have done my best for the honour of our country," were the parting
words of the dead hero. His country felt itself profoundly
dishonoured by the manner in which it had lost this its famous son--a
man distinguished at once by commanding ability, unsullied honour,
heroic valour; a man full of tenderest beneficence towards his
fellows, and of utter devotion to his God; "the grandest figure,"
said an American admirer, "that has crossed the disc of this planet
for centuries." Him England had fatally delayed to help, withheld by
the dread of costly and cruel warfare; and then just failed to save
him by a war enormously costly and cruelly fatal indeed. A general
lamentation, blent with cries of anger, rose up from the land. Her
Majesty shared the common sorrow, as her messages of sympathy to the
surviving relations of Gordon testified. Various charitable
institutions, modelled on the lines which he had followed in his work
among the poor, rose to keep his memory green; and thus the objects
of his Christlike care during his life are now profiting by the
world-famous manner of his death. But there is still a deep feeling
that even time itself can hardly efface the stain that has been left
on our national fame. An English expedition, well commanded, full of
ardour and daring, sent to accomplish a specific object, and failing
in that object; its commander, entirely guiltless of blame, having to
abandon the scene of his triumphs to a savage, fanatic foe as was now
the case--this was evil enough; but that our beloved countryman, a
true knight without fear and without reproach, should have been
betrayed to desertion and death through his own magnanimity and our
sluggishness, added a rankling, poisonous sense of shame to our
humiliation. That the same year saw further electoral privileges
extended to the humble classes in England, beyond what even the last
Reform Bill had conferred, which might prove of advantage afterwards,
but was an imperfect consolation at the time. Another grief fell upon
the Queen in this year in the early death of Leopold, Duke of Albany,
a Prince whose intellectual gifts were nearly allied to those of his
father, but on whom lifelong delicacy of health had enforced a life
of comparative quietude. His widowed bride and infant children have
ever since been cared for tenderly by his royal mother.

[Illustration: Duchess of Albany. _From a Photograph by A. BASSANO,
Bond Street, W._]



[Illustration: Sydney Heads.]

If now we turn our eyes a while from the foreign and domestic
concerns of Great Britain proper, and look to the Greater Britain
beyond the seas, we shall find that its progress has nowise lagged
behind that of the mother Isle. To Lord Durham, the remarkable man
sent out in 1838 to deal with the rebellion in Lower Canada, we owe
the inauguration of a totally new scheme of colonial policy, which
has been crowned with success wherever it has been introduced. It has
succeeded in the vast Canadian Dominion, now stretching from ocean to
ocean, and embracing all British North America, with the single
exception of the Isle of Newfoundland. In 1867 this Federation was
first formed, uniting then only the two Canadas with New Brunswick
and Nova Scotia, under a constitution framed on Lord Durham's plan,
and providing for the management of common affairs by a central
Parliament, while each province should have its own local
legislature, and the executive be vested in the Crown, ruling through
its Governor General. It had been made competent for the other
provinces of British North America to join this Federation, if they
should so will; and one after another has joined it, with the one
exception mentioned above, which may or may not be permanent. The
population of the Dominion has trebled, and its revenues have
increased twenty-fold, since its constitution was thus settled.

The same system, it may be hoped, will equally succeed in that
wonderful Australasia where our colonists now have the shaping of
their destinies in their own hands, amid the yet unexplored amplitude
of a land where "in the softest and sweetest air, and in an
unexhausted soil, the fable of Midas is reversed; food does not turn
to gold, but the gold with which the land is teeming converts itself
into farms and vineyards, into flocks and herds, into crops of wild
luxuriance, into cities whose recent origin is concealed and
compensated by trees and flowers."

In such terms does a recent eye-witness describe the splendid
prosperity attained within the last two or three decades by that
Australia which our fathers thought of chiefly as a kind of far-off
rubbish-heap where they could fling out the human garbage of England,
to rot or redeem itself as it might, well out of the way of society's
fastidious nostril, and which to our childhood was chiefly associated
with the wild gold-fever and the wreck and ruin which that fever too
often wrought. The transportation system, so far as Australia was
concerned, came virtually to an end with the discovery of gold in the
region to which we had been shipping off our criminals. The colonists
had long been complaining of this system, which at first sight had
much to recommend it, as offering a fair chance of reformation to the
convict, and providing cheap labour for the land that received him.
But it was found, as a high official said, that convict labour was
far less valuable than the uncompelled work of honest freemen; and
the contagious vices which the criminal classes brought with them
made them little welcome. When to these drawbacks were added the
difficulties and dangers with which the presence of the convict
element in the population encumbered the new gold-mining industry,
the question reached the burning stage. The system was modified in
1853, and totally abolished in 1857. Transports whose sentence were
unexpired lingered out their time in Tasmania, whence the aborigines
have vanished under circumstances of cruelty assuredly not mitigated
by the presence of convicts in the island; but Australia was
henceforth free from the blight.

The political life of these colonies may be said to have begun in the
same year--1853--when the importation of criminals received its first
check. New South Wales, the eldest of the Australian provinces,
received a genuine constitution of its own; Victoria followed in
1856--Victoria, which is not without its dreams of being one day "the
chief State in a federated Australia," an Australia that may then
rank as "a second United States of the Southern Hemisphere." Western
Australia, South Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, and New Zealand,
one after another, attained the same liberties; all have now
representative governments, modelled on those of the mother country,
but inevitably without the aristocratic element. Such an aristocracy
as that of England is the natural growth of many centuries and of
circumstances hardly likely to be duplicated--a fact which the Prince
Consort once had occasion to lay very clearly before Louis Napoleon,
anxious to surround himself with a similar nobility, if only he could
manage it. But though the aristocratic element be lacking, the
patriotic passion and the sentiment of loyalty are abundantly
present; nor has the mother country any intellectual pre-eminence
over her colonies, drawn immeasurably nearer to her in thought and
feeling as communication has become rapid and easy.

There is something almost magical at first sight in the
transformation which the Australian colonies have undergone in a very
limited space of time; yet it is but the natural result of the
untrammelled energy of a race sovereignly fitted to "subdue the
earth." It is curious to read how in 1810 the convict settlement at
Botany Bay--name of terror to ignorant home criminals, shuddering at
the long, dreadful voyage and the imagined horrors of a savage
country--was almost entirely nourished on imported food, now that the
vast flocks and herds of Australia and New Zealand contribute no
inconsiderable proportion of the food supply of Britain.

The record of New Zealand is somewhat less brilliant than that of its
gigantic neighbour. This is due to somewhat less favourable
circumstances, to a nobler and less manageable race of aborigines;
the land perhaps more beautiful, is by the very character of its
beauty less subduable. Its political life is at least as old as that
of the old Australian colony, its constitution being granted about
the same time; but this colony has needed, what Australia has not,
the armed interference of the Home Government in its quarrels with
the natives--a race once bold and warlike, able to hold their own
awhile even against the English soldiers, gifted with eloquence, with
a certain poetic imagination, and no inconsiderable intelligence. It
seemed, too, at one moment as if these Maoris would become generally
Christianised; but the kind of Christianity which they saw
exemplified in certain colonists, hungry for land and little
scrupulous as to the means by which they could gratify that hunger,
largely undid the good effected through the agency of missionaries,
the countrymen of these oppressors, whose evil deeds they were
helpless to hinder. A superstition that was nothing Christian laid
hold of many who had once been altogether persuaded to embrace the
teachings of Jesus, and the relapsed Maoris doubtless were guilty of
savage excesses; yet the original blame lay not chiefly with them;
nor is it possible to regard without deep pity the spectacle
presented at the present day of "the noblest of all the savage races
with whom we have ever been brought in contact, overcome by a worse
enemy than sword and bullet, and corrupted into sloth and
ruin, ...ruined physically, demoralised in character, by drink."
Nobler than other aborigines, who have faded out before the invasion
of the white man, as they may be, their savage nobility has not saved
them from the common fate; they too have "learned our vices faster
than our virtues," aided by the speculative traders in alcoholic
poison, who have followed on the track of the colonist, and who,
devil's missionaries as they are, have counteracted too quickly the
work of the Christian evangelists who preceded them.

The extraordinary natural fertility of the country, whose volcanic
nature was very recently terribly demonstrated, is yet very far from
being utilised to the utmost, the population of the islands, not
inferior in extent to Great Britain, being yet a long way below that
of London. Probably this "desert treasure-house of agricultural
wealth" may, under wise self-government, yet rise to a position of
magnificent importance.

Of all our colonies that in Southern Africa has the least reason to
be proud of its recent history, which has not been rendered any
fairer by the discovery of the great Diamond Fields, and the rush of
all sorts and conditions of men to profit thereby. Into the entangled
history of our doings in relation to Cape Colony--originally a Dutch
settlement--and all our varied and often disastrous dealings with the
Dutch-descended Boers and the native tribes in its neighbourhood, we
cannot well enter. Our missionary action has the glory of great
achievement in Southern Africa; of our political action it is best to
say little.

A more encouraging scene is presented if we turn to the Fijian Isles,
whose natives, once a proverb of cannibal ferocity, have been
humanised and Christianised by untiring missionary effort, and by
their own free-will have passed under British domination and are
ruled by a British governor. The extraordinary change worked in the
people of these isles, characterised now, as even in their heathen
days, by a certain bold manliness, that hitherto has escaped the
usual deterioration, is so great and unmistakable that critics
predisposed to unfriendliness do not try to deny it.

In consequence of the immensely increased facilities of communication
that we now enjoy, our own great food-producing dependencies and the
vast corn-growing districts of other lands can pour their stores into
our market--a process much aided by the successive removal of so many
restrictions on commerce, and by the practical science which has
overcome so many difficulties connected with the transport of slain
meat and other perishable commodities. England seems not unlikely to
become a wonderfully cheap country to live in, unless some new turn
of events interferes with the processes which during the last two
decades have so increased the purchasing power of money that, as is
confidently stated, fifteen shillings will now buy what it needed
twenty shillings to purchase twenty years ago. To this result, as a
matter of course, the enormous development of our manufacturing and
other industries has also contributed.

There is another side to the medal, and not so fair a one. The
necessaries of life are cheaper; wages are actually higher, when the
greater value of money is taken into account; more care is taken as
to the housing of the poor; the workers of the nation have more
leisure, and spend not a little of it in travelling, being now by far
the most numerous patrons of the railway; the altered style of the
conveyances provided for them is a sufficient testimony to their
higher importance. All this is to the good; so, too, is the
diminution in losses by bankruptcy and in general pauperism, the
increasing thrift shown by the records of savings banks, the
lengthening of life, the falling off in crime, which is actually--not
proportionally--rarer than ten years ago, to go no further back.

Against this we have to set the facts that the terrible malady of
insanity is distinctly on the increase--whether due to mere physical
causes, to the high pressure at which modern society lives, or to the
prevalent scepticisms which leave many wretched men so little
tranquillising hope or faith, who shall say?--that all trades and
professions are more or less overcrowded; and that there is a
terrible amount, not of pauperism, but of hard-struggling poverty,
massed up in the crowded, wretched, but high-priced tenements of
great towns, and maintaining a forlorn life by such incessant, cruel
labour as is not exacted from convicted criminals in any English
prison. London, where this kind of misery is inevitably at its
height, receives every week an accession of a thousand persons, who
doubtless, in a great majority of cases, simply help to glut the
already crowded labour market and still further lower the wages of
the workers; and the other great towns in like manner grow, while the
rural population remains stagnant or lessens. Agricultural distress,
which helps to keep the tide of emigration high, also accounts in
part for this singular, undesirable displacement of population; while
recent testimony points to the fact that the terribly unsanitary and
inefficient housing of the rural poor does much to drive the best and
most laborious members of that class away from the villages and
fields which might otherwise be the homes of happy and peaceful
industry. For this form of evil, in town and country, private
greed--frequently shown by small proprietors, who have never learnt
that property has duties as well as rights--is very largely
responsible; for how many other of the evils we have to deplore is
not the greed of gain responsible?

The sins of the age are still much the same sins that the Laureate
roughly arraigned when the Crimean war broke our long peace;
denouncing the race for riches which turned men into "pickpockets,
each hand lusting for all that is not its own;" denouncing the cruel
selfishness of rich and poor as the vilest kind of civil war, being
"underhand, not openly bearing the sword." We had made the blessings
of peace a curse, he told us, in those days, "when only the ledger
lived, and when only not all men lied; when the poor were hovelled
and hustled together, each sex, like swine; when chalk and alum and
plaster were sold to the poor for bread, and the spirit of murder
worked in the very means of life." Yet those very days saw the
uprising of a whole generation of noble servants of humanity,
resolute to tight and overcome the rampant evils that surrounded
them. And though we would avoid the error of praising our own epoch
as though it alone were humane, as though we only, "the latest seed
of Time, have loved the people well," and shown our love by deeds;
though we would not deny that to-day has its crying abuses as well as
yesterday; yet it is hardly possible to survey the broad course of
our history during the past sixty years, and not to perceive, amid
all the cross-currents--false ambitions, false pretences,
mammon-worship, pitiless selfishness, sins of individuals, sins of
society, sins of the nation--an ever-widening and mastering stream of
beneficent energy, which has already wonderfully changed for the
better many of the conditions of existence, and which, since its flow
shows no signs of abating, we may hope to see spreading more widely,
and bearing down in its great flood the wrecks of many another
oppression and iniquity.



[Illustration: Robert Southey.]

"Man doth not live by bread alone." The enormous material progress of
this country during the last sixty years--imperfectly indicated by
the fact that during the last forty years the taxable income of the
United Kingdom has been considerably more than doubled--would be but
a barren theme of rejoicing, if there were signs among us of
intellectual or spiritual degeneracy. The great periods of English
history have been always fruitful in great thinkers and great
writers, in religious and mental activity. Endeavouring to judge our
own period by this standard, and making a swift survey of its
achievements in literature, we do not find it apparently inferior to
the splendours of "great Elizabeth" or of the Augustan age of Anne.
Our fifth Queen-regnant, whose reign, longer than that of any of her
four predecessors, is also happier than that of the greatest among
them, can reckon among her subjects an even larger number of men
eminent in all departments of knowledge, though perhaps we cannot
boast one name quite equal to Newton in science, and though assuredly
neither this nor any modern nation has yet a second imaginative
writer whose throne may be set beside that of Shakespeare.

[Illustration: William Wordsworth.]

[Illustration: Alfred Tennyson. _From a Photograph by Elliott & Fry_]

We excel in quantity, indeed; for while, owing to the spread of
education, the number of readers has been greatly increased, the
number of writers has risen proportionately; the activity of the
press has increased tenfold. Journalism has become a far more
formidable power in the land than in the earlier years when, as our
domestic annals plainly indicate, the _Times_ ruled as the Napoleon
of newspapers. This result is largely due to the removal of the
duties formerly imposed both on the journals themselves and on their
essential paper material; and it would indeed "dizzy the arithmetic
of memory" should we try to enumerate the varied periodicals that are
far younger than Her Majesty's happy reign. Of these a great number
are excellent in both intention and execution, and must be numbered
among the educating, civilising, Christianising agencies of the day.
They are something more and higher than the "savoury literary
_entremets_" designed to please the fastidious taste of a cultured
and leisured class, which was the just description of our periodical
literature at large not so very long ago. The number of our
imaginative writers--poets and romancers, but especially the
latter--has been out of all proportion great. We give the place of
honour, as is their due, to the singers rather than to the
story-tellers, the more readily since the popular taste, it cannot be
denied, chooses its favourites in inverse order as a rule.

[Illustration: Robert Browning. _From a Photograph by Elliott &

When Her Majesty ascended the throne, one brilliant poetical
constellation was setting slowly, star by star. Keats and Shelley and
Byron, none of them much older than the century, had perished in
their early prime between 1820 and 1824; Scott had sunk under the
storms of fortune in 1832; the fitful glimmer of Coleridge's genius
vanished in 1834, and a year later "the gentle Elia" too was gone.
Southey, who still held the laureate-ship in 1837, had faded out of
life in 1843, and was succeeded in his once-despised office by
William Wordsworth, who, with Rogers and Leigh Hunt and Moore, lived
far into the new reign, uniting the Georgian and the Victorian school
of writers. Thomas Hood, the poet of the poor and oppressed, whose
too short life ended in 1845, gives in his serious verse such
thrilling expression to the impassioned, indignant philanthropy,
which has actuated many workers and writers of our own period, that
it is not easy to reckon him with the older group. His song rings
like that of Charles Kingsley, poet, novelist, preacher, and
"Christian socialist," who did not publish his "Saint's Tragedy" till
three years after Hood was dead.

There has, indeed, been no break in the continuity of our great
literary history; while one splendid group was setting, another as
illustrious was rising. Tennyson, who on Wordsworth's death in 1850
received at Queen Victoria's hand the "laurel greener from the brows
of him that uttered nothing base," had published his earliest two
volumes of poems some years before Her Majesty's accession; and of
that rare poetic pair, the Brownings, each had already given evidence
of the great powers they possessed, Robert Browning's tragedy of
"Strafford" being produced on the stage in 1837, while his future
wife's translation of the "Prometheus Bound" saw the light four years
earlier. The Victorian period can boast no greater poetic names than
these, each of which is held in highest reverence by its own special
admirers. The patriotic fervour with which Lord Tennyson has done
almost all his laureate work, the lucid splendour of his style, the
perfect music of his rhythm, and the stinging sharpness with which he
has sometimes chastised contemporary sins, have all combined to win
for him a far wider popularity than even that accorded to the fine
lyrical passion of Mrs. Browning, or to the deep-thoughted and
splendid, but often perplexing and ruggedly phrased, dramatic and
lyric utterances of her husband. All three have honoured themselves
and their country by a majestic purity of moral and religious
teaching--an excellence shared by many of their contemporaries, whose
powers would have won them a first place in an age and country less
fruitful of genius; but not so conspicuous in some younger poets,
later heirs of fame, whose lot it may be to carry on the traditions
of Victorian greatness into another reign.

There are not a few writers of our day whose excellent prose work has
won more of popular favour than their verse, which notwithstanding is
of high quality. Such was the "unsubduable old Roman," Walter Savage
Landor, a contemporary of Byron and Wordsworth, who long outlived
them, dying in 1864. Such--to bring two extremes together--are the
critic and poet Matthew Arnold, the poet and theologian John Henry
Newman. Intimately associated in our thought with the latter, who has
enriched our devotional poetry with one touching hymn, is Keble, the
singer _par excellence_ of the "Catholic revival," and the most
widely successful religious poet of the age, though only very few of
his hymns have reached the heart of the people like the far more
direct and fervent work of the Wesleys and their compeers. He is even
excelled in simplicity and passion, though not in grace and
tenderness, by two or three other workers in the same field, who
belong to our day, and whose verse is known more widely than their

We have several women-poets who are only less beloved and less well
known than Mrs. Browning; but so far the greatest literary
distinction gained by the women of our age and country,
notwithstanding the far wider and higher educational advantages
enjoyed by them to-day, has been won, as of yore, in the field of
prose fiction. More than a hundred years ago a veteran novelist,
whose humour and observation, something redeeming his coarseness,
have ranked him among classic English authors, referred mischievously
to the engrossing of "that branch of business" by female writers,
whose "ease, and spirit, and delicacy, and knowledge of the human
heart," have not, however, availed to redeem their names from
oblivion. For some of their nineteenth-century successors at least
we may expect a more enduring memory.

Numerous as are our poets, they are far outnumbered by the novelists,
whose works are poured forth every season with bewildering profusion;
but as story-tellers have always commanded a larger audience than
grave philosophers or historians, and as our singers deal as much in
philosophy as in narrative, perhaps in seeking for the cause of this
overrunning flood of fiction we need go no further than the immensely
increased number of readers--a view in which the records of some
English public libraries will bear us out. We may therefore be
thankful that, on the whole, such literature has been of a vastly
purer and healthier character than of yore, reflecting that higher
and better tone of public feeling which we may attribute, in part at
least, to the influence of the "pure court and serene life" of the

[Illustration: Charles Dickens. _From a Photograph by Elliott &

[Illustration: W.M. Thackeray. _From a Drawing by Samuel Lawrence_.]

This nobler tone is not least perceptible in the eldest of the great
masters of fiction whom we can claim for our period--Dickens, who in
1837 first won by his "Pickwick Papers" that astonishing popularity
which continued widening until his death; Thackeray, who in that year
was working more obscurely, having not yet found a congenial field in
the humorous chronicle that reflects for us so much of the Victorian
age, for _Punch_ was not started till 1841, and Thackeray's first
great masterpiece of pathos and satire, "Vanity Fair," did not begin
to appear till five years later. Each of these writers in his own way
held "the mirror up" to English human nature, and showed "the very
age and body of the time his form and pressure," with manly boldness
indeed, but with due artistic reticence also; each knew how to be
vivid without being vicious, to be realistic without being revolting;
and despite the sometimes offensive caricature in which the one
indulged, despite the seeming cynicism of the other their influence
must be pronounced healthy. Thackeray did not, like Dickens, use his
pen against particular glaring abuses of the time, nor insist on the
special virtues that bloom amid the poor and lowly; but he attacked
valiantly the crying sins of society in all time--the mammon-worship
and the mercilessness, the false pretences and the fraud--and never
failed to uphold for admiration and imitation "whatsoever things are
true, whatsoever things are honourable, whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever thing are pure, whatsoever things are lovely." And though
both writers were sometimes hard on the professors of religion,
neither failed in reverence of tone when religion itself was

[Illustration: Charlotte Bronte.]

The sudden death of both these men, in the very prime of life and in
the fulness of power, was keenly felt at the time: each had a
world-wide fame, and each awakened a blank, distressful sense of
personal loss in his many admirers as he was suddenly called away
from incomplete work and faithful friendship. Contemporary literature
has not benefited by the removal of these two men and the gradual
diminishing of the influence they so strongly exerted while yet they
"stood up and spoke." The work of Charlotte Bronte--produced under a
fervent admiration for "the satirist of Vanity Fair," whom she deemed
"the first social regenerator of his day"--is, with all its
occasional morbidness of sensitive feeling, far more bracing in moral
tone, more inspiring in its scorn of baseness and glorifying of
goodness, than is the work of recent Positivist emulators of the
achievements of George Eliot. Some romances of this school are vivid
and highly finished pictures of human misery, unredeemed by hope, and
hardly brightened by occasional gleams of humour, of the sardonic
sort which may stir a mirthless smile, but never a laugh. Herein they
are far inferior to their model, whose melancholy philosophy is half
hidden from her readers by the delightful freshness and truth of her
"Dutch painter's" portraying of every-day humanity, by her delicately
skilful reproduction of its homely wit and harmless absurdity.
Happily neither these writers, nor the purveyors of mere sensation
who cannot get on without crime and mystery, exhaust the list of our
romancers, many of whom are altogether healthful, cheerful, and
helpful; and it is no unreasonable hope that these may increase and
their gloomier rivals decrease, or at least grow gayer and wiser.

[Illustration: Lord Macauley.]

There are many other great writers, working in other fields, whom we
may claim as belonging altogether or almost to the Victorian age.
Within that period lies almost entirely the brilliantly successful
career of Macaulay, essayist, poet, orator, and historian. For the
last-named _role_ Macaulay seemed sovereignly fitted by his
extraordinary faculty for assimilating and retaining historical
knowledge, and by the vividness of imagination and mastery of words
which enabled him to present his facts in such attractive guise as
made them fascinating far beyond romance. His "History of England
from the Accession of James II," whereof the first volumes appeared
in 1849, remains a colossal fragment; the fulness of detail with
which he adorned it, the grand scale on which he worked, rendered its
completion a task almost impossible for the longest lifetime; and
Macaulay died in his sixtieth year. Despite the defects of
partisanship and exaggeration freely and not quite unjustly charged
upon his great work, it remains a yet unequalled record of the period
dealt with, just as his stirring ballads, so seemingly easy of
imitation in their ringing, rolling numbers, hold their own against
very able rivals and are yet unequalled in our time.

[Illustration: Thomas Carlyle.]

Macaulay was not the first, and he is not the last, of our
picturesque historians. It was in 1837 that Carlyle, who four years
before had startled the English-reading public by his strangely
worded, bewildering "Sartor Resartus," brought out his astonishing
"History of the French Revolution"--a prose poem, an epic without a
hero, revealing as by "flashes of lightning" the ghastly tragedy and
comedy of that tremendous upheaval; and in 1845 he followed up the
vein thus opened by his lifelike study of "Oliver Cromwell," which
was better received by his English readers than the later "History of
Friedrich II," marvel of careful research and graphic reproduction
though it be. To Carlyle therefore and to Macaulay belongs the honour
of having given a new and powerful impulse to the study they adorned;
dissimilar in other respects, they are alike in their preference for
and insistent use of original sources of information, in their able
employment of minute detail, and in the graphic touch and artistic
power which made history very differently attractive in their hands
from what it had ever been previously. Mr. Froude and Mr. Green may
be ranked as their followers in this latter respect; hardly so Mr.
Freeman or the philosophic Buckle, Grote, and Lecky, who by their
style and method belong more to the school of Hallam, however widely
they may differ from him or from each other in opinion. But in
thoroughness of research and in resolute following of the very truth
through all mazes and veils that may obscure it, one group of
historians does not yield to the other.

[Illustration: William Whewell, D.D.]

[Illustration: Sir David Brewster.]

And the same zealous passion for accuracy that has distinguished
these and less famous historians and biographers has shown itself in
other fields of intellectual endeavour. Our Queen in her desire "to
get at the root and reality of things" is entirely in harmony with
the spirit of her age. In scientific men we look for the ardent
pursuit of difficult truth; and it would be thankless to forget how
numerous beyond precedent have been in the Victorian period faithful
workers in the field of science. Though some of our _savants_ in
later years have injured their renown by straying outside the sphere
in which they are honoured and useful and speaking unadvisedly on
matters theological, this ought not to deter us from acknowledging
the value of true service rendered. The Queen's reign can claim as
its own such men as John Herschel, worthy son of an illustrious
father, Airy, Adams, and Maxwell, Whewell and Brewster and Faraday,
Owen and Buckland and Lyell, Murchison and Miller, Darwin and Tyndall
and Huxley, with Wheatstone, one of the three independent inventors
of telegraphy, and the Stephensons, father and son, to whose ability
and energy we are indebted for the origination and perfection of our
method of steam locomotion; it can boast such masters in philosophy
as Hamilton and Whately and John Stuart Mill, each a leader of many.
It has also the rare distinction of possessing one lady writer on
science who has attained to real eminence--eminence not likely soon
to be surpassed by her younger sister-rivals--the late Mrs. Mary
Somerville, who united an entirely feminine and gentle character to
masculine powers of mind.

[Illustration: Sir James Simpson.]

[Illustration: Michael Faraday.]

Only to catalogue the recent discoveries and inventions we owe to men
of science, from merciful anaesthetics to the latest applications of
electric power, would occupy more space than we ought here to give.
All honour to these servants of humanity! We rejoice to find among
them many who could unite the simplest childlike faith with a wide
and grand mental outlook; we exult not less to find in many Biblical
students and commentators the same patience, thoroughness, and
resolute pursuit of the very truth as that exemplified by the
devotees of physical science. God's Word is explored in our day--the
same clay which has seen the great work of the Revised Version of the
Scriptures begun and completed--with no less ardour than God's world.
And what vast additions have been made to our knowledge of this
earth! We have seen Nineveh unburied, the North-West Passage
explored, and the mysterious Nile stream at last tracked to its
source. To compare a fifty-years-old map of Africa with one of the
present day will a little enable us to estimate the advances made in
our acquaintance with the Dark Continent alone; similar maps
including the Polar regions of North America will testify also to a
large increase of hard-won knowledge.

[Illustration: David Livingstone.]

[Illustration: Sir John Franklin.]

Exploration--Arctic, African, Oriental and Occidental--has had its
heroic devotees, sometimes its martyrs. Witness Franklin, Burke and
Wills, and Livingstone. The long uncertainty overhanging the fate of
the gallant Franklin, after he and the expedition he commanded had
vanished into the darkness of Arctic winter in 1845, and the
unfaltering faithfulness with which his widow clung to the search for
her lost husband, form one of the most pathetic chapters of English
story. The veil was lifted at last and the secret of the North-West
Passage, to which so many lives had been sacrificed, was brought to
light in the course of the many efforts made to find the dead
discoverer. As Franklin had disappeared in the North, so Livingstone
was long lost to sight in the wilds of Africa, and hardly less
feverish interest centred round the point, so long disputed, of his
being in life or in death--interest freshly awakened when the remains
of the heroic explorer, who had been found only to be lost again,
were brought home to be laid among the mighty dead of England. The
fervent Christian philanthropy of Livingstone endeared him yet more
to the national heart; and we may here note that very often, as in
his case, the missionary has served not only Christianity, as was his
first and last aim, but also geographical and ethnological science
and colonial and commercial development. We have briefly referred
already to some of the struggles, the sufferings, and the triumphs of
missionary enterprise in our day: to chronicle all its effort and
achievement would be difficult, for these have been world-wide, and
often wonderfully successful. Nor has much less success crowned other
agencies for meeting the ever-increasing need for religious
knowledge, which multiply and grow in number and in power. Witness,
among many that might be named, the continuous development of the
Sunday School system and the immensely extended operations of the
unsectarian Bible Society.

[Illustration: John Ruskin. _From a Photograph by Elliott & Fry_.]

Great advances have been made during this reign in English art and
art-criticism, and more particularly in the extension of real
artistic education to classes of the community who could hardly
attain it before, though it was perhaps more essential to them than
to the wealthy and leisurely who had previously monopolised it. The
multiplication of Schools of Design over the country, intended to
promote the tasteful efficiency of those engaged in textile
manufactures and in our decorative and constructive art generally, is
one remarkable feature of the time, and the sedulous cultivation of
music by members of all classes of society is another, hardly less
hopeful. In all these efforts for the benefit and elevation of the
community the Prince Consort took deep and active interest, and the
royal family themselves, from Her Majesty downwards, highly cultured
and accomplished, have not failed to act in the same spirit. But the
history of English nineteenth-century art would be incomplete indeed
without reference to two powerful influences--the rise and progress
of the new art of photography, which has singularly affected other
branches of graphic work; and the career, hitherto unexampled in our
land, of the greatest art-critic of this, perhaps of any, age--John
Ruskin, the most eminent also of the many writers and thinkers who
have been swayed by the magic spell of Carlyle, whose fierce and
fervid genius, for good or for evil, told so strongly on his
contemporaries. Ruskin is yet more deeply imbued with his master's
philosophy than those other gifted and widely influential teachers,
Maurice and Kingsley; and yet perhaps he is more strongly and
sturdily independent in his individuality than either, while the
unmatched English of his prose style differs not less widely from the
rugged strength of Carlyle than from the mystical involution of
Maurice and the vehement and, as it were, breathless, yet vivid and
poetic, utterance of Kingsley. When every defect has been admitted
that is chargeable against one or all of this group of sincere and
stalwart workers, it must be allowed that their power on their
countrymen has been largely wielded for good. Particularly is this
the case with Ruskin, whose influence has reached and ennobled many a
life that, from pressure of sordid circumstances, was in great need
of such help as his spirituality of tone, and deeply felt reverential
belief in the Giver of all good and Maker of all beauty, could

[Illustration: Dean Stanley.]

[Illustration: "I was sick, and ye visited me."]

We have preferred not to dwell on one department of literature which,
like every other, has received great additions during our
period--that of religious controversy. A large portion of such
literature is in its very nature ephemeral; and some of the disputes
which have engaged the energies even of our greatest masters in
dialectics have not been in themselves of supreme importance; but
many points of doctrine and discipline have been violently canvassed
among professing Christians, and attacks of long-sustained vigour and
virulence have been made on almost every leading article of the
Christian creed by the avowed enemies or the only half-hostile
critics of the Church, which the champions of Scripture truth have
not been backward to repel. Amid all this confusion and strife of
assault and resistance one thing stands out clearly: Christianity and
its progress are more interesting to the national mind than ever
before. It has been well, too, that through all those fifty years a
large-minded and fervent but most unobtrusive and practical piety has
been enthroned in the highest places of the land--a piety which will
escape the condemnation of the King when He shall come in His glory,
and say to many false followers, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no
meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink; I was a stranger, and
ye took Me not in; naked, and ye clothed Me not; sick, and in prison,
and ye visited Me not."

These dread words are not for those who have cared as our Sovereign
Lady and her beloved ones have cared for the sick and the suffering
and the sad; who have bound up the heart-wounds of the widow and the
orphan and ministered to their earthly needs; who, like our lost
Princess Alice and her royal elder sister, have tended the victims of
war, shrinking from no ghastliness or repulsiveness, no horrors of
the hospital where victor and vanquished lay moaning in common
misery; or, like their queenly mother, have shed the sunshine of
royal smiles and soothing words and helpful alms upon the obscurer
but hardly less pitiable patients who crowd our English infirmaries.
In her northern and southern "homes" of Osborne and Balmoral the
Queen, too, has been able to share a true, unsophisticated friendship
with her humble neighbours, to rejoice in their joys and lighten
their griefs with gentle, most efficient sympathy. It was of a
Highland cottage that Dr. Guthrie wrote that "within its walls the
Queen had stood, with her kind hands smoothing the thorns of a dying
man's pillow. There, left alone with him at her own request, she had
sat by the bed of death--a Queen ministering to the comfort of a
saint." It was in a cottage at Osborne that the same gentle and
august almsgiver was found reading comfortable Scripture words to a
sick and aged peasant, quietly retiring upon the entrance of the
clerical visitant, that _his_ message of peace might be freely given,
and thus allowing the sufferer to disclose to the pastor that the
lady in the widow's weeds was Victoria of England. These are
examples, which it would be easy to multiply, of that true oneness of
feeling between the lofty and the lowly which is the special, the
unique glory of Christ's kingdom. May our land never lack them; may
they multiply themselves to all time.

The best evidence of the truth of the Gospel is admittedly its
unequalled power of lifting up humanity to higher and yet higher
levels. In many and mighty instances of that power our age is not
barren. And in despite of the foes without and within that have

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