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symbol of all dominion, and to have secured it at once from the strife of tongues and the conflict of parties, without at the same time endangering the liberties of the subject or the supremacy of law-this, indeed, I have learned to regard as one of the most signal achievements of our race.
Nor was that the only cause for a change of sentiment, which is important merely because of the unimportance of the individual who is thus narrating his pilgrimage from Republicanism to Monarchy. If I had been any one exceptional either by birth, education, or opportunity, these confessions would have been less interesting. It is just because I was an ordinary, average English boy, born in a remote village and reared outside the conventional “ loyal” pale, that I have deemed it worth while to begin my series of studies of the Queen and the Queen's reign, by explaining exactly where I stood and where I stand, in the hope that a frank personal survey of the steps which led me from one position to the other may help us to understand the great change that has taken place in the last fifty years in the attitude of the Radical masses sowards the Crown.
No doubt those who have been fervent Monarchists from their cradle will shrug their shoulders and marvel that even an ordinarily stupid Englishman should have taken so long to see what to them was always as plain as a pike-staff and as elementary a proposition as that two and two makes four. But it is enough to reply to their gibes that my standpoint at starting is the standpoint to-day of the majority of those who speak our mother-tongue, and that even within these islands there is still ample field for the missionaries of the Constitutional Monarchy among those who would prefer their Republic without the Crown. The hard wear and tear of actual experience in France and the United States has destroyed the glamour with which in my boyhood the Republic was invested. Social inequality, envy, hatred and all the deadly sins which were once believed to flow from the existence of a throne and an aristocracy, are seen to flourish in more malignant virulence in Republics where there are neither crowns nor nobles. The social order in the old country undoubtedly might be improved in many respects, but in all that differentiates a mob from a family, and an organised social community from a mere predatory horde, it will challenge comparison with the best results that have been attained by the Republics of the Old World and the New. And no small credit for the attainment of this sense of social justice and of ordered content is due to the greatest of all Permanent Civil Servants of the nation, our Sovereign Lady the Queen.
The pride of the parvenu, the insolence of the upstart, the vulgar pretensions of the plutocrat, are abased in the presence of the daughter of a hundred kings, who is nevertheless the friend and neighbour of the Highland cotters, and the simple, unassuming, unaffected lady of Osborne and Windsor. It is something at least to have one family in the land high enough to need to put on no "side," with a position so secure that its princes can dine with dustmen without impairing their social status. Before the altitude of the Throne, dukes and dustmen seem very much on a level. As against the exclusiveness and uppishness of some of our gentry, who often forget to be gentlemen, the Crown is a Democratic engine, and Royalty a reserve of great Democratic power at home as well as abroad
“ The kings must come down and the Emperors frown,
When the Widow of Windsor says stop." We have not yet carried the democratisation of our institutions to the ultimate, but it is with a smug sense of satisfaction that the great middle class, which never attends Drawing Rooms and knows nothing of Levees, remembers that in Disraeli's Cabinet, which he garnished with dukes, no Minister had so much of His Majesty's confidence as the Lancashire lawyer who was then plain Mr. Richard Cross, and that in the last Liberal Administration no Minister at the Council Board was so liked by the Queen as the son of the Wesleyan minister who is now the Right Hon. Sir H. H. Fowler.
Nor is that all. The fortunate accident, if I may use such a word, that for sixty years the Throne has been occupied by a female sovereign, has been of inestimable advantage to the cause with which the future progress of the race is most closely bound up. The arrival of women on the stage of citizenship may possibly be regarded by the future historian as the greatest social and political event of the Victorian era. And in promoting and facilitating the advent of woman as a political factor, the Queen's influence has been simply incalculable. With a woman at the foretop of the State, no one could pretend that it was unwomanly to take a serious interest in State affairs. And with the steadily accumulated volume of testimony as to the supreme ability, the keen sagacity, and the shrewd commonsense with which the Queen bore herself in the greatest and most arduous position in the realm, no one of her subjects could honestly repeat the old rubbish about the natural incapacity of women. What the Queen's own views are upon the subject of Woman's Suffrage is comparatively immaterial. By the patient and punctilious discharge of all the complex and multifarious duties of her political and social position, the Queen has vindicated the capacity of her sex to perform political and social duties, and has dispelled as the sun dissipates the mist the foggy notions entertained by many as to political incapacity being one of the natural disabilities of her sex. Step by step the work of enfranchisement has proceeded, until there now remains but one last measure of reform to make the law as colour-blind to sex as it has long been colour-blind to sect. No more striking or appropriate method of commemorating the record reign in British history can be conceived than the abolition of the last rag of sex disability which still disfigures our Statute Book.
If the Queen's personal feeling on the subject of Woman's Suffrage is not known to her subjects, it is far otherwise in relation to a subject in which women, who are in a special sense guardians of the sanctity of the family in which they reign as queens, naturally take the keenest interest. I remember how deeply impressed I was eleven years ago, in the midst of the agitation for raising the age of consent, which incidentally landed me in gaol, by the universal conviction of all the women who were working in that cause that they had the heart-felt sympathy of the Queen. What evidence there was to that effect I do not know. But that they believed it, evidence or no evidence, heart and soul-to that I can testify beyond a doubt. Equally certain is it that this conviction of theirs that the Queen was on their side was to many a worn and heartsick toiler as a pillar of fire in a dark and dreary land.
Even before Her Majesty was able from her knowledge of life and experience as wife and mother to understand and to take her stand, the mere fact that she was a woman is reported to have warded off for nearly thirty years the shameful legislation which Mrs. Butler ultimately overthrew. The story goes that there was a proposition far back in the thirties to legalise compulsory examination by the Police des Moeurs, but that it was abandoned at the instance of Lord Melbourne. The Queen's first Prime Minister is said to have declared that it was impossible to ask the young maiden who had just ascended the Throne to sign such a measure, which of course it would have been his lot to explain to Her Majesty. So the idea was abandoned, and for thirty years the visitation was warded off.
The story may or may not be authentic. It was certainly firmly believed, and its currency, even it if were not founded on fact, illustrates the potency and charm of a woman on the Throne.
Upon this side of the subject I prefer to quote the remarks of Mr. Brett in his admirable and suggestive little book, "The Yoke of Empire.” Speaking of this phase of the Queen's character, he says :
“ Among the various parties and factions, schools of thought and of behaviour, into which modern England is divided, the most cohesive is the Puritan middle class. For two centuries from the rise of Cromwell, this body has slowly gained ground, and absorbed a more unvarying share of political power than can be ascribed to any other in the State; and in the eyes of the Puritan middle classes the Queen has become a model Sovereign. If from the Reform Bill of 1832 to the retirement of Mr. Gladstone in 1894, the Puritan middle classes have governed England, they have certainly no cause to complain of the sympathetic response of the Sovereign to their views and demands. .:. The character and rule of Queen Victoria have set a high standard, below which it will be impossible for a monarch to fall without personal disaster. What wonder is it then that the Puritans have learned to regard the Queen with an admiration and a gratitude heretofore extended to Oliver Cromwell alone ?"
It may, at least, be said for Monarchy as it has been said for the Stage-it has given woman an oportunity and a career, denied her elsewhere. No system of Government as yet devised by man, save Monarchy alone, could have secured for a woman such an innings as our Queen has had. All existing Republican systems have carefully provided against the possibility of any woman ever having any such chance, by denying to all women any right even to stand as candidate for supreme office. And from my point of view, this alone, other things being equal, would turn the balance in favour of the Crown.
But other things are not equal. The balance of advantage in such an Empire as ours in favour of the Monarchy is unmistakable. * Every year the proportion of English-speaking folk outside these islands increases. And with every such increase the political or Imperial value of the Royal Family rises. For the tie which unites our world-scattered commonwealths is not primarily political, neither is it kept up by politics. It is a tie in its nature domestic. It is the English-speaking family rather than an Empire. And the nexus is the Royal Family rather than the House of Commons. Every Colony has its own legislative assembly. None of them has a Queen and Royal Family. The Crown, like the Abbey, is one of the heirlooms of the whole race, which cannot be distributed. It must be localised, and the Mother Country keeps both. But if either the Crown or the Abbey disappeared the sense of loss would be felt as keenly in Winnipeg, in New Zealand, in Cape Colony, and in Queensland. To the eyes of the English-speaking men who have made their homes at the Antipodes, English politicians have not the importance that they have at home. Colonists have their own politicians, and, as far away as England is, the differences between our politicians, even when seen through the opera glass of the press telegrams, are apt to seem too infinitesimal to be noticed. They might as well get up sweepstakes about a race of mites across a cheese. But high above all political people there rises ever before the eyes of every English-speaking man, whether Republican or Colonial or native to these islands, the majestic fabric of the Hereditary Monarchy. It rises above the vast democratic steppe as the Round Tower of Windsor shows high
I venture to quote here an extract from Admiral Maxse, to whom I had written under the mis. taken belief that he, like Mr. Chamberlain, at one time had made public profession of Republican sentiments. Admiral Maxse, after correcting this misconception, wrote: “I am by nature Republican in sentiment; my reverence goes much more easily to character than to show. I have no enthusiasm for royalty--so much so, that I have kept out of its presence as much as possible during all my life. I never attend a Drawing Room or go to a Levee. There are such shoals of people eager to do reverence that I feel my absence is unnoticed. Nevertheless, I support the Monarchy because I care immensely for the British Empire, or Dominion or Union of the British-speaking race. As human nature is constituted, the Royal Emblem is necessary to crown the Empire. Republicanism is, in itself, disintegrating. Then I observe that the best elements do not rise to the surface under Republican government.
over the Berkshire plain. Its prominence is an element in its favour that is too often forgotten. Men may come and men may go, Cabinets emerge like foambells in the wave and disappear, but the Queen is always there. And when we have to do with many millions, scattered over many continents, it is impossible to make any impression on the general mind by the fleeting phantoms of evanescent Ministries. To borrow an illustration from photography, their exposure is not long enough. The plate is not sensitive enough for rapid photography. But the immobility, the massive grandeur, and the fierce light that beats around the Throne, all facilitate the production of a clear, well defined image on the mind of our kin beyond the sea. Familiarity is of the essence of home. And our progeny would feel themselves strangers in a strange land if they were to return to the Old Country, which they call their Motherland, only to find, in place of the Queen upon the throne, Mr. Chamberlain or Sir William Harcourt or Mr. Tittlebat Tomkins sitting in the Presidential Chair of the British Republic. *
In many other ways the Monarchy, especially in the reign of the present Sovereign, has contributed to the stability of the realm and to the peace and contentment of the people. Pre-eminent above all other qualities which Her Majesty has displayed, is the supreme divine grace of sympathy. The Queen having suffered much has sympathised the more.
Every.great national disaster has evoked her warm-hearted succour. If her Prime Minister has been the head, Her Majesty has ever been the heart of the realm. It was somewhat touchingly remarked the other day that from her earliest childhood the Queen had hardly ever been out of mourning. Her life has been passed in the shadow of the tomb, which has opened to receive in slow succession almost all her contemporaries, and not a few of her own children and children's children. But still from the unfailing depths of her womanly sympathy she draws consolation for the bereaved and comfort for the sorrowing. Thus the proudest Empire the world has ever seen has installed as its Sovereign the incarnate Genius of Womanly Compassion.
Nor can it be said that the influence of the Queen has only been indirect, or that she has not again and again interfered to divert State policy from perilous paths, and to secure her Empire's peace. Of this the nation is somewhat dimly conscious, and our people at home and over the sea go about their daily labour in the comfortable assurance that in addition to all the visible and tangible apparatus on which they can count for the purpose of preserving the peace of the realm and the defence of its rights and interests, they can also confidently rely upon the unceasing vigilance and incomparable experience of an Invisible Helper, who, though her action is unseen, hovers like a Guardian Angel over the peace of the nations that call her Queen.
The last occasion on which I saw Her Majesty was on that high and solemn festival when the Queen summoned to the Abbey the representatives of all the nations, principalities, and powers that own her sway, in order to join with her in rendering thanks to Almighty God for the marvellous loving-kindness and manifold mercies He had graciously vouchsafed to this land of ours during the reign of fifty years. The memory of that stately pageant is still with me. The grey old Abbey, with all its associations of genius and of glory, never enclosed within its walls a scene more
* Of this, as these pages are passing through the press, an interview, published in the British Weekly, with the Rev. Dr. Bevan, one of the most eminent Colonial divines, affords apt confirmation. The average Australian, said Dr. Bevan, knows little or nothing about English politics. “I doubt,” he added, “whether he could name more than four or five English statesmen. But that is the case in all countries in relation to the politics of other lands. The other day I was in a bookseller's shop in Bâle, and the man was showing me a group of the leading politicians of Germany. He was surprised to find that many were quite unfamiliar to me. • Tell me, I said, how many English politicians do you know ?! Well,' he said, “there is Mr. Gladstone and Lord Salisbury, and-and, well, surely there is a Joseph something.' Now, do you know,” continued Dr. Bevan, “that that man's position is not so entirely different from ours in Victoria. For myself, I must confess that I have no idea who is the present Home Secretary."
splendid and inspiring. Every nook and corner in the vast edifice was crowded with a great multitude of the picked men of the Realm and of the Empire. No department of the State, no colony, no dependency, was unrepresented in that brilliant throng. Ambassadors and governors, princes and potentates, dusky Oriental rajahs blazing in jewels, English nobles, and the great notables of the democracy mustered in troops to the great Thanksgiving. When all were assembled beneath the storied roof of the ancient Abbey, and the long aisles framed a marvellous picture of life and colour, the Queen entered. The whole assemblage rose to their feet as the familiar figure of the
Mother of her People slowly passed down the nave to take her place before the altar, where, in the midst of her children, she offered thanks. And as the Queen—the Highest on Earth-knelt before the Lord God of Heaven, all thought of Her Majesty and her might, or of her Empire over land and sea, disappeared, and we saw only the plain little loving-hearted woman, who as maid, wife, and widow had for fifty years shared, more than any, all the joys, the sorrows, the hopes and fears, the trying vicissitudes and glowing aspirations which make up the sum of the private and public life of her people. And as she joined in the jubilant anthem of praise to Him who alone is the Giver of all good gists, it was as if I saw a new and more glorious rendering of the old painting I had seen in my youth. For that which was then declared to be the secret of England's greatness was now in the fulness of the years proclaimed to be also the secret, the open secret, of the greatness and the glory of the Reign.