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stantly 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 recurring to them, 1.2., 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.”
Nor did the Queen ever restrict herself to Ministerial channels of information. Her correspondence with her Colonial Governors, Indian Viceroys, and other representatives has been continuous and voluminous. And all of these notables of the Empire were proud to give the Sovereign Lady of the Realm the ripest fruit of their observation and experience. Lord Palmerston in 1863, as he was nearing the close of a long Ministerial career, declared that the Queen had ever scrupulously acted upon the counsels of her Ministers; but he went on to say:
“A strict observance of these fundamental principles does not, however, preclude the Sovereign from seeking from all quarters from whence it can be obtained the fullest and most accurate information regarding matters upon which the responsible Ministers may from time to time tender advice, and upon which it is not only right but useful that the Sovereign should form an opinion, to be discussed with the Ministers, if it should differ from the tendered advice.”
Mr. Gladstone, the only other Minister whose career can be compared to Lord Palmerston's for duration and variety of service, has borne testimony as unqualified to her "thorough comprehension of the conditions of the great Covenant between the Throne and the People."
It is obvious that such a Sovereign so minutely and accurately informed concerning all the details of all the Colonies and Dependencies of her world-wide Empire could not fail to exercise a potent influence in Council, and has, as a matter of fact, repeatedly succeeded in deflecting tendencies which, but for her watchful care, might have brought the Empire much ill.
The story of the part taken by the Queen in the Indian Mutiny can only be glanced at here. Whether it was in urging that vigorous measures should be taken to cope with the crisis at the beginning, or in lifting up a warning voice at its close against the savagery of vengeance, the Queen took a leading hand in all that went on. Her letters to Lord Panmure urging the despatch of reinforcements are the letters of one accustomed to command, and to whom the responsibility of Empire was a very real thing. She wrote, for instance, on one occasion
“ The Queen is anxious to impress in the most earnest manner upon her Government the necessity of our taking a comprehensive view of our military position at the present momentous crisis, instead of going on without a plan, living from hand to mouth, and taking small isolated measures without reference to each other."
As the result of their inconsiderate reductions in the spring there were no troops available but those who had been at the Crimea, and thus said the Queen, with the natural indignation proper to a sympathetic woman—“ Having passed through this destructive campaign, they have not been home for a year before they are to go to India for perhaps twenty years. This is most cruel and unfair to the gallant men who devote their services to the country.” Her Majesty is always looking after the Empire and at the same time the Widow of Windsor never forgets Tommy Atkins.
Hence if we were to ask how it is that the Empire has grown and thriven so marvellously all these years, until all sane citizens are proud of its extent and solicitous for its unity, we may find a clue to the secret in the fact that in the actual workings of our Constitution, the Sovereign, who must be heard by the natural operation of the combined forces of knowledge, experience, continuity, and resolution, has, as a matter of fact, in the broad outlines of our Imperial and Colonial policy, become, if not “She who must be Obeyed,” then certainly “She who has been Obeyed," and will be obeyed yet more and more so long as it please God to spare her to live and reign over her loyal and contented people.
Let no one imagine that the Queen ever contented herself with holding the sound Imperial doctrine as a pious opinion. It has been with her a faith which she propagated with the zeal of an apostle, and with a tact a:d a scruple to which many apostles are strangers.
One of the means, by no means inefficacious, which Her Majesty employed was that of dispatching, as commis-voyageurs of the Empire, the Princes of the Blood on tour through India and the Colonies. The Prince of Wales, while but a youth, visited Canada, and in his later life made the tour of India. The Duke of Edinburgh travelled through the South African Colonies and visited Australia. The sons of the Prince of Wales in the Bacchante made the tour of the world. The Marchioness of Lorne repre sented her family at Ottawa when her husband was Governor-General of the Dominion. The Duke of Connaught has served in India. These were not mere accidental trips or holiday tours. The Princes were used deliberately as shuttles in the Imperial loom. Shortly before his death the Prince Consort exclaimed:
“How important and beneficent is the part given to the Royal Family of England to act in the development of those distant and rising countries which recognise in the British Crown, and their allegiance to it, their supreme bond of union with the mother country and with each other."
That beneficent function the Royal Family has sedulously discharged. Nor have they ever failed to speak and act as peripatetic apostles of Imperial unity. That note is always present in the Royal utterances. When the Australian Colonies celebrated their centenary, the Queen saluted them with a message which accurately expresses her relations to the great self-governing Colonies :
“ The Queen warmly congratulates the Australian colonies on the splendid material and social progress achieved during the past hundred years. She deeply appreciates their loyalty, and has watched with sincere interest the excellent administration of their Governments, and she prays that their prosperity and close attachment to the mother country may continue to increase as hitherto.”
When her Jubilce was to be celebrated, the one gift which she desired from her subjects was something that would be a help to promote unity. Speaking of the proposed Memorial of her Jubilee, the Prince of Wales said :
“In order to afford the Queen the fullest satisfaction, the proposed memorial should not merely be personal in its character, but should tend to serve the interests of ihe entire Empire, and to promote a feeling of unity among the whole of Her Majesty's subjects.”
What wonder is it, then, that a Canadian subject of Her Majesty, Mr. Castell Hopkins, who has just published a portly volume descriptive of the Sovereign and her reign, should bear the following emphatic testimony to the services which the Queen has rendered the Empire :--
“Of the forces working for union during the past sixty years, the most potent has been the personality and position of the Sovereign. of those working for disintegration the chief has been the Manchester school of economists and theorists. The Queen has been a rallying-point of loyalty throughout all the dark days of early struggle and political disaffection in Canada, and through the later events of American commercial coercion or efforts at annexationist conciliation; throughout all the gloomy days of South African wars and maladministration and Imperial indifference; throughout the times of Australian conflict with the transportation system and struggles with a stormy and rough mining democracy; throughout the days of West Indian decadence or New Zealand's contests with powerful Maoris, and its more recent struggles with the crude vagaries of Socialism run mad. Everywhere the name and qualities and constitutional action of the Queen have permeated Colonial politics, preserved Colonial loyalty, helped the British sentiment of the people, and developed their Constitutions along British lines.'
III.---THE QUEEN AS EDITOR OF THE REALM.
E have mistaken our vocations, you and I,” said Sir Robert Morier to me, on
one of the long evenings when we sat talking in the British Embassy at St.
Petersburg in the early summer of 1888. “Yes,” he continued, “it is you who should have been the diplomatist, while I should have been the editor.”
It was after one of the great days I had enjoyed in the Russian capital, when, after many difficulties, I had succeeded in obtaining the object of my mission. And then Sir Robert launched out upon the inexhaustible ocean of personal reminiscence in order to explain how narrowly he had escaped being a journalist, and how much he regretted
the destiny which had cabined, cribbed, and confined him in the diplomatic service, whereas he might have been luxuriating in the freedom of editorial omnipotence. “What might not the Times be and do,” he exclaimed, not once, but twenty times, “if only its editor realised his opportunities and rose to his responsibilities !”—a favourite text this, and one on which the Ambassador could indeed give the Editor points.
Never shall I forget those famous conversations at the Embassy, when the old man eloquent would discourse literally till the pale sunlight of the early dawn lit up the restless waters of the Neva. What a mine of historical treasure was closed when Sir Robert died no one knows save those who shared with me the inestimable privilege of sitting at his feet night after night, and listening to the outpouring from the depths, in which a singularly exact and tenacious memory had stored up all things worth remembering in European history for the last thirty years. The late Lord Derby once told me that Sir Robert Morier had more knowledge of his business in his little finger than there was in all the rest of the Diplomatic Service put together; and the assertion, although hyperbolical, will surprise no one who can look back to confidential talks with the late Ambassador.
One day, shortly after my interview with the Tsar, Sir Robert Morier surprised me by saying, “I want to read you an extract from my letter to the Queen, in which I have described your visit to Gatschina. I wish to be quite sure that I have got the expressions exactly right.” “Certainly," I said ; " but you are not going to put what I told you into a despatch ?” “Despatch !-who said despatch?” growled Sir Robert. “ It is in my letter to the Queen, that is confidential, and never gets into Blue Books. We constantly write to her of all that goes on," he added, "when it is important she should know.” So, without more ado, the Ambassador brought out his " letter” and read it over--all of it, that is, that related to my conversation with Alexander III. He had reproduced my report with marvellous exactitude, embodying it in a most amusing setting of his own. I had very few corrections to make, and was immensely interested in the glimpse thus afforded me of the relations existing between Her Majesty and her Ambassador abroad. “Do you always write like this?” I asked, marvelling not so much at the writing as at the reading. "When there is anything to write," he said;
and as I have told Her Majesty that I do not think any one has ever had a conversation with the Tsar under circumstances which render it so morally certain that the Tsar would speak his real mind and express exactly what he thinks, I have reported it at some length ”- which was true. Sir Robert Morier would have made a splendid Special Correspondent, and his letter was first class copy.
The incident has often recurred to my mind in the last eight years, and at last I have come to regard it as affording a key or a clue to the real position of the Queen in the Constitutional Monarchy in this its latest stage of development. In that peep into the secret workings of the governing machine I seem to have gained an insight into the truth of things as they are, as opposed to the theories of things as they ought to be, and this leads me to an analogy, natural perhaps to one of my profession, but which none the less will better than any other enable the ordinary man to understand exactly the part which in the present state of the Constitutional Monarchy is played by the Queen.
1.—THE REALM (UNLIMITED). The true theory of the position of the Queen can best be understood by imagining the Realm and all its dependencies as a great newspaper owned by a myriad shareholders, who include all the subjects of Her Majesty at home or over sea. Of these shareholders, a small minority, exclusively male, and resident solely in Great Britain and Ireland, have a voice in the direction of the policy of the whole vast concern. Shareholders' meetings, which must be held once in seven years, and which, as a matter of fact, have been held nearly twenty times in the course of the last sixty years, have power to elect an Editorial Council of six hundred odd members, which sits about seven or eight months in the year. The Realm, however, comes out every day, and