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of Wales or for the Jubilee of her Reign, the Queen is able to discharge the natural and
proper rôle of her central position, for she then acts in accord with the unanimous sentiment of all her subjects.
But because the Queen is by her position precluded from heading forlorn hopes, or commanding in person those adventurous associations of pioneers who play the John Baptist part of preparing the way for the main body, it must not be supposed that Her Majesty's conception of the functions of the Crown confine her utterances to a mere colourless expression of truths which have become so commonplace as to be obvious to everybody. On the contrary, no Pope could be more vigorous and outspoken when the time for excommunication or fulmination has arrived. There are some occasions upon which the supreme prayer of the devout heart is to hear some
“Damn” as if they meant it. The Queen does not hesitate to say “ Damn ” with emphasis when the need arises. Such a case undoubtedly was that when General Gordon perished at his post at Khartoum owing to the delay in the dispatch of the relieving expedition.
The moral sense of the whole world,
roused and inspired by the self-abnega
tion of General Gordon, was outraged by
the news of his death. The Queen, acting as
the mouthpiece of the national sentiment,
sent a telegram to her Ministers which, in
good, sound, plain English, told them
what she thought of them and of their
policy of Too Late; and then, remember
ing the personal sorrow of the bereaved
sister, Her Majesty wrote to Miss Gor
don the following letter, which is worthy
of being held in everlasting remembrance
as an illustration of the sympathy of the
woman, the freedom of the Queen, and the
vigorous vehemence with which our Lady
Primate of All Britain can on occasion pro
the major excommunication :
“February 17th, 1885. “Dear Miss Gordon,
How shall I write to you, or how shall I attempt to
express what I feel?' Tó think of your dear, noble,
heroic brother, who served his country and his Queen
so truly, so heroically, with a self-sacrifice so dei
fying to the world, not having been rescued.
(Photographed by Ernest E. White, Dighton's Art That the promises of sup:
Studio, Cheltenham.) port were not fulfilled
which I so frequently and constantly pressed on those who asked him to go—is to me grief inexpressible!—indeed, it has made me ill
. My heart bleeds for you, his sister, who have gone through so many anxieties on his account, and who loved the dear brother as he deserved to be. You are all so good and trustful and have such strong faith, that you will be sustained even now, when real absolute evidence of your dear brother's death does not exist—but I fear there cannot be much doubt of it. Some day I hope to see you again to tell you all I cannot express.
My daughter Beatrice, who has felt quite as I do, wishes me to express her deepest sympathy from abroad; from my eldest daughter, the Crown Princess, and from my cousin, the King of the Belgians, the very warmest. Would you express to your other sisters and your elder brother my true sympathy, and what I do so keenly feel—the stain left upon England for your dear brother's cruel, though heroic, fate ! “Ever, dear Miss Gordon, yours sincerely and sympathisingly,
My Quaker correspondent, from whom I have quoted, sighed that the Queen did not care as much about justice to her “nigger” subjects as Olive Schreiner. I do not think that, much as I love and admire Olive Schreiner, the author of “ 'Trooper Halket of Mashonaland” has any right to be regarded as caring more for justice to blacks
than Her Majesty. The two South African statesmen whom Her Majesty supported as far as she constitutionally could against the opinion of her Ministers, Sir George Grey and Sir Bartle Frere, were pre-eminently men who cared for justice. To this day millions of her “nigger ” subjects believe more in the Queen than in any other being, whether God or man.
The one occasion of all others in which the national passion was roused, and we were in imminent peril of doing cruel injustice to our coloured fellow-subjects, occurred during the Indian Mutiny. The savage atrocities of the mutineers roused a spirit both in India and in this country which, if it had not been checked, might have left an indelible stain upon our name. How was it checked ? It was stemmed by Lord Canning, who was supported vigorously by Her Majesty, against the ferocious outcries of a vindictive press. “There is a rabid and indiscriminate vindictiveness abroad," Lord Canning wrote privately to the Queen on September 25th, 1857, "even amongst many who ought to set a better example, which it is impossible not to contemplate without a feeling of shame for one's countrymen.” To this the Qeeen replied in language which, although not so rhetorical as Olive Schreiner's, anticipated the novelist's appeal by nearly forty years, and in much more practical fashion. She wrote ;
“ 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 upon the innocent women and children, which make one's blood run cold and one's heart bleed! For the perpetrators of these awful horrorsno 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 fugitives, 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."
When the Mutiny was suppressed, and in the summer of the following year (1858) the time came for announcing the new policy and the new Government to the people of India, Her Majesty again intervened on behalf of justice to the native. The Queen was abroad when the first draft of the proclamation reached her. It was a miserable, jejune document, without heart in it or religion, and withal it had the incredible ill-taste to allude to the power the Government possessed of undermining native religions and customs. The Queen was revolted at the threat. The proclamation would never do:
“Her Majesty disapproves of the expression which declares that she has the power of undermining the Indian religions.' Her Majesty would prefer that the subject should be introduced in a declaration in the sense that the deep attachment which Her Majesty feels to her own religion, and the comfort and happiness which she derives from its consolation, will preclude her from any attempt to interfere with the native religions, and that her servants will be directed to act scrupulously in accordance with her directions."
But she was not satisfied with merely indicating objections in detail ; she had the whole proclamation re-written. She wrote :
“ The Queen would be glad if Lord Derby would write it himself in his excellent language, bearing in mind that it is a female Sovereign who speaks to more than a hundred millions of Eastern people on assuming the direct government of them, and after a bloody civil war giving them pledges which her future reign is to redeem, and explaining the principles of her government. Such a document should breathe feelings of generosity, benevolence, and religious toleration, and point out the privileges which the Indians will receive on being placed on an equality with the subjects of the British Crown, and the prosperity following in the train of civilisation.”
The proclamation was re-written “entirely in the spirit of your Majesty's observations.” But still the Queen was not quite satisfied, so she added in her own hand to the last sentence these words :
May the God of all power grant to us and those in authority under us strength to carry out these our wishes for the good of our people!”
That is a record that ought not to be forgotten even by those who are lost in admiration at Olive Schreiner's variant on the Sermon on the Mount. Her Majesty
has ever taken the deepest interest in her coloured subjects. It was this that was at the bottom of the Empress of India idea; it was this which led her to send the Prince of Wales on his tour through Hindostan. She is probably the only notable Englishwoman who has chosen a personal attendant from the East, and certainly is the only lady of our land who at the age of sixty began to learn Hindostani.
GROUP OF THE QUEEN, PRINCE ALBERT, AND PRINCESS ROYAL, WITH DEAD GAME.
(After a painting by. Sir Edwin Landseer.)
Some people may think little of the fact that even during her sojourn in Southern France the Queen has been accompanied by an Indian confidential servant. But few facts could more markedly illustrate the continuing personal interest the Queen takes in the dim millions of her Oriental Empire. For to the Queen her personal attendants are much more important factors in her existence than the great nobles and princes who throng her Court. Her Majesty is probably the only author in the world who dedicated any of her works to her body-servant, and no author has ever lavished upon princely patron more fervent eulogy than the Queen bestowed upon John Brown, of whom she says:
“A truer, nobler, trustier heart, More loyal and more loving, never beat
Within a human breast." The other lamentation of my correspondent, in which she deplores that the Queen does not care as much about purity in men as Sarah Grand, is almost as grotesque as if one were to lament that the great Napoleon cared less about the winning of victories than the latest drummer boy who executes a fantasia upon the stretched sheepskin. Sarah Grand is a good woman, who wrote “ The Heavenly Twins ” with the best intentions in the world, desiring, and succeeding in her desire, to call public attention to an evil too often slurred over and ignored. But to compare her services or her “care " for a purer life with the lifelong service of the Queen in the same cause is just a trifle too much. Is it not a fact that the Queen has constantly discouraged the appointment of Ministers and high officials whose life has not been able to bear inspection? Is it not an open secret that two of the most notable Prime Ministers of the century were for years more or less cold-shouldered at Court because of a certain looseness in talk and language which Her Majesty disliked and showed that she disliked ? When she began her reign it was not under the austerest auspices. Lord Melbourne is said to have declared on one occasion that “that damned morality is sure to ruin everything.” But who is there who does not agree with Baron Stockmar that it was the stainless purity of the Queen that saved everything ? Take the testimony of Mr. Brett, a shrewd observer, well situated and capable of judging things as they are. He says, in his “Yoke of Empire” :
“If from the Reform Bill of 1832 to the retirement of Mr. Gladstone in 1894 the Puritan middle classes have governed England, they certainly have no cause to complain of the sympathetic response of the Sovereign to their views and demands. A high standard of virtue had not been hitherto characteristic of the British Hanoverian Court. George the Third had, it is true, endeared himself to the people by his simple domestic life, but the conduct of the Prince Regent altogether destroyed the use of the Court as an example for the people. The two first Georges flaunted their mistresses as openly as any Stuart, while William the Fourth had fathered and ennobled a tribe of illegitimate children. 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. . Out of the Slough of the Regency the Queen and Prince Albert raised the Court of England to the first place among nations. For twenty years the loftiest example of domestic and public virtue was conspicuous on the Throne. Upon society the effect was instantaneous, and the decorous behaviour of the Court led, if not to virtue, at any rate to the concealment of vices which had been previously openly flaunted. Paternity was no longer a matter of speculation.”
All which is well and truly said. Of this phase of the subject-of the Queen as the ideal wife and mother-I must postpone remark till my next chapter. Let us now turn to the more general service rendered to the nation by the Monarch who has acted as the embodiment of the great undenominational virtues of the Civic Church.
“ I was hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” These six duties of man to man constitute the bed-rock of the working creed of the Civic Church. Its Head has seldom lost an opportunity of emphasising the importance of these duties from the time of her accession down to the present day, when the only gifts she consents to accept in commemoration of her Great Jubilee are those which would minister to the happiness and comfort of the poorest of her subjects. Not jewels for her diadem, but beds for the hospitals of the poor—these are the wishes of the good Queen. Again to quote Mr. Brett :
“ The Queen has ever conspicuously maintained her high moral attitude of benevolence, of personal sympathy in sorrow, of tender gratitude for public service, of tender regard for misfortune, pain or death in the meanest of her subjects.”
To have done this, and done it supremely well, for sixty years on end, is indeed a record of which the human race, and not Great Britain alone, has indeed cause to be proud. It marks the high-water mark of human endeavour under the most arduous circumstances, beneath the fierce light that proverbially beats upon the throne.
The steady adherence in personal practice to the great simple virtues of Honour and Truth is enough to pre-eminently distinguish the reign. John Bright, a Quaker not given to flattering those who wear crowns, declared emphatically that Her Majesty was the most absolutely truthful person he had ever met. For all the small crafts of the courtier she has ever had the most sovereign contempt. In her eyes to be straightforward and sincere is the first of all virtues. Her anxious desire to see things as they are, to know the truth, to hear at first hand exactly what has happened, has always been conspicuous. She has forgiven rudeness, brusquerie, everything but deceit and trickiness, Over and over again her Ministers, even those against whom she had at one time a well-grounded prejudice, have recognised with heartfelt gratitude the support which she has rendered them without stint or grudging, even when they have been carrying out a policy of which she personally disapproved.
Next to the passion of the Queen for truth, must be placed that other great English virtue—the passion for solid work as opposed to mere ceremonial. In the famous communiqué which she caused to be inserted in The Times in 1866, Her Majesty expressed herself with almost Republican severity on the insignificance of the externals of Court life compared with the real hard work of the government of the realm. After explicitly contradicting the report that she was about to return to Society, she said :
“Whenever any real object is to be obtained by her appearing on public occasions, any national interest to be promoted, or anything to be encouraged which is for the good of the people, Her Majesty will not shrink, as she has not shrunk, from any personal sacrifice or exertion, however painful. But there are other and higher duties than those of mere representation which are now thrown upon the Queen alone and unassisted-duties which she cannot neglect without injury to the public servicewhich weigh unceasingly upon her, overwhelming her with work and anxiety. To call upon her to undergo in addition the fatigue of those mere State ceremonies which can be equally well performed by other English members of family, is to ask her to run the risk of entirely disabling herself for the discharge of those over duties which cannot be neglected without serious injury to the public interests.
There is the true note of Republican simplicity and of a born ruler's contempt for the frippery and gilding of things compared with the realities underneath.
There is naturally but little known of the part taken by the Queen in the initiative of legislation for the welfare of the poor. Her hearty Godspeed has never been lacking whenever any project has commanded sufficient public support to justify her affixing to it her Royal sign manual. Where any persons have done conspicuous service to the suffering, them the Queen delighteth to honour. Florence Nightingale was entertained and decorated, and Mrs. Stowe was honoured, from the bounty of a heart overflowing with sympathy with the helpless and the tortured. No great disaster at sea or in the mine, on railway or in battle-field, has desolated a hundred British homes without eliciting from the Queen prompt telegram of sympathy, followed usually by a subscription from the Royal purse.
It is curious to read over the Prince Consort's letter-essay on the duties of a Bishop in the House of Lords (printed on a previous page), and to compare it with the duties actually performed by Her Majesty in the State. Those who do so will see how closely Her Majesty has followed her husband's advice even as if she were in the Episcopate herself.
The first official steps taken in the direction of National Education were due to the direct initiative of the Queen. As the Duke of Argyll said long after :-“The Sovereigns of this country do take, and are expected to take, an active personal share in the government which is conducted in their name. The Queen," he added, "during all time of her care and sorrow had devoted herself without one day's intermission to those cares of government which belong to her position as Sovereign of this