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GREAT BRITAIN AND HER QUEEN

by

ANNE E. KEELING

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

Second Edition. Revised and Enlarged, 1897







[Illustration: Queen Victoria]



[Illustration: Claremont]




CONTENTS

CHAPTER I.
THE GIRL QUEEN AND HER KINGDOM

CHAPTER II.
STORM AND SUNSHINE

CHAPTER III.
FRANCE AND ENGLAND

CHAPTER IV.
THE CRIMEAN WAR

CHAPTER V.
INDIA

CHAPTER VI.
THE BEGINNINGS OF SORROWS

CHAPTER VII.
CHANGES GOOD AND EVIL

CHAPTER VIII.
OUR COLONIES

CHAPTER IX.
INTELLECTUAL AND SPIRITUAL PROGRESS

CHAPTER X.
PROGRESS OF THE EMPIRE FROM 1887 TO 1897

CHAPTER XI.
PROGRESS OF WESLEYAN METHODISM UNDER QUEEN VICTORIA, 1837-1897

CONCLUSION



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

Queen Victoria
Claremont
The Coronation of Queen Victoria
Kensington Palace
Duchess of Kent
Elizabeth Fry
Rowland Hill
Father Mathew
George Stephenson
Wheatstone
St. James's Palace
Prince Albert
The Queen in Her Wedding-Dress
Sir Robert Peel
Daniel O'Connell
Richard Cobden
John Bright
Lord John Russell
Thomas Chalmers
John Henry Newmann
Balmoral
Buckingham Palace
Napoleon III
The Crystal Palace, 1851
Lord Ashley
Earl of Derby
Duke of Wellington
Florence Nightingale
Lord Canning
Sir Colin Campbell
Henry Havelock
Sir John Lawrence
Windsor Castle
Prince Frederick William
Princess Royal
Charles Kingsley
Lord Palmerston
Abraham Lincoln and his son
Princess Alice
The Mausoleum
Dr. Norman Macleod
Prince of Wales
Princess of Wales
Osborne House
Sir Robert Napier
Mr. Gladstone
Lord Beaconsfield
Lord Salisbury
General Gordon
Duke of Albany
Duchess of Albany
Sydney Heads
Robert Southey
William Wordsworth
Alfred Tennyson
Robert Browning
Charles Dickens
W. M. Thackeray
Charlotte Brontë
Lord Macaulay
Thomas Carlyle
William Whewell, D.D.
Sir David Brewster
Sir James Y. Simpson
Michael Faraday
David Livingstone
Sir John Franklin
John Ruskin
Dean Stanley
"I was sick, and ye visited me"
Duke of Connaught
The Imperial Institute
Duke of Clarence
Duke of York
Duchess of York
Princess Henry of Battenberg
Prince Henry of Battenberg
The Czarina of Russia
H. M. Stanley
Dr. Fridtjof Nansen
Miss Kingsley
J. M. Barrie
Richard Jefferies
Rev. J. G. Wood
Dean Church
Professor Huxley
Professor Tyndall
C. H. Spurgeon
Dr. Horatius Bonar
Sir J. E. Millais, P.R.A.
Sir Frederick Leighton, P.R.A.
Wesley preaching on his father's tomb
Group of Presidents: - No. 1
Centenary Meeting at Manchester
Key to Centenary Meeting
Wesleyan Centenary Hall
Group of Presidents: - No. 2
Sir Francis Lycett
The Methodist Settlement, Bermondsey. London, S.E.
Theological Institution, Richmond
Theological Institution, Didsbury
Theological Institution, Headingley
Theological Institution, Handsworth
Kingswood School, Bath
The North House, Leys School, Cambridge
Queen's College, Taunton
Wesley College, Sheffield
Children's Home, Bolton
Westminster Training College and Schools
Group of Presidents: - No. 3

[Illustration: The Coronation of Queen Victoria]



GREAT BRITAIN AND HER QUEEN.

[Illustration: Kensington Palace]

CHAPTER I.

THE GIRL-QUEEN AND HER KINGDOM.

Rather more than one mortal lifetime, as we average life in these
later days, has elapsed since that June morning of 1837, when
Victoria of England, then a fair young princess of eighteen, was
roused from her tranquil sleep in the old palace at Kensington, and
bidden to rise and meet the Primate, and his dignified associates the
Lord Chamberlain and the royal physician, who "were come on business
of state to the Queen" - words of startling import, for they meant
that, while the royal maiden lay sleeping, the aged King, whose
heiress she was, had passed into the deeper sleep of death. It is
already an often-told story how promptly, on receiving that summons,
the young Queen rose and came to meet her first homagers, standing
before them in hastily assumed wrappings, her hair hanging loosely,
her feet in slippers, but in all her hearing such royally firm
composure as deeply impressed those heralds of her greatness, who
noticed at the same moment that her eyes were full of tears. This
little scene is not only charming and touching, it is very
significant, suggesting a combination of such qualities as are not
always found united: sovereign good sense and readiness, blending
with quick, artless feeling that sought no disguise - such feeling as
again betrayed itself when on her ensuing proclamation the new
Sovereign had to meet her people face to face, and stood before them
at her palace window, composed but sad, the tears running unchecked
down her fair pale face.

That rare spectacle of simple human emotion, at a time when a selfish
or thoughtless spirit would have leaped in exultation, touched the
heart of England deeply, and was rightly held of happy omen. The
nation's feeling is aptly expressed in the glowing verse of Mrs.
Browning, praying Heaven's blessing on the "weeping Queen," and
prophesying for her the love, happiness, and honour which have been
hers in no stinted measure. "Thou shalt be well beloved," said the
poetess; there are very few sovereigns of whom it could be so truly
said that they _have_ been well beloved, for not many have so well
deserved it. The faith of the singer has been amply justified, as
time has made manifest the rarer qualities joyfully divined in those
early days in the royal child, the single darling hope of the nation.

Once before in the recent annals of our land had expectations and
desires equally ardent centred themselves on one young head. Much of
the loyal devotion which had been alienated from the immediate family
of George III. had transferred itself to his grandchild, the Princess
Charlotte, sole offspring of the unhappy marriage between George,
Prince of Wales, and Caroline of Brunswick. The people had watched
with vivid interest the young romance of Princess Charlotte's happy
marriage, and had bitterly lamented her too early death - an event
which had overshadowed all English hearts with forebodings of
disaster. Since that dark day a little of the old attachment of
England to its sovereigns had revived for the frank-mannered sailor
and "patriot king," William IV; but the hopes crushed by the death
of the much-regretted Charlotte had renewed themselves with even
better warrant for Victoria. She was the child of no ill-omened,
miserable marriage, but of a fitting union; her parents had been
sundered only by death, not by wretched domestic dissensions. People
heard that the mortal malady which deprived her of a father had been
brought about by the Duke of Kent's simple delight in his baby
princess, which kept him playing with the child when he should have
been changing his wet outdoor garb; and they found something touching
and tender in the tragic little circumstance. And everything that
could be noticed of the manner in which the bereaved duchess was
training up her precious charge spoke well for the mother's wisdom
and affection, and for the future of the daughter.

It was indeed a happy day for England when Edward, Duke of Kent, the
fourth son of George III, was wedded to Victoria of Saxe-Coburg, the
widowed Princess of Leiningen - happy, not only because of the
admirable skill with which that lady conducted her illustrious
child's education, and because of the pure, upright principles, the
frank, noble character, which she transmitted to that child, but
because the family connection established through that marriage was
to be yet further serviceable to the interests of our realm. Prince
Albert of Saxe-Coburg was second son of the Duchess of Kent's eldest
brother, and thus first cousin of the Princess Victoria - "the
Mayflower," as, in fond allusion to the month of her birth, her
mother's kinsfolk loved to call her: and it has been made plain that
dreams of a possible union between the two young cousins, very nearly
of an age, were early cherished by the elders who loved and admired
both.

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

The Princess's life, however, was sedulously guarded from all
disturbing influences. She grew up in healthy simplicity and
seclusion; she was not apprised of her nearness to the throne till
she was twelve years old; she had been little at Court, little in
sight, but had been made familiar with her own land and its history,
having received the higher education so essential to her great
position; while simple truth and rigid honesty were the very
atmosphere of her existence. From such a training much might be
hoped; but even those who knew most and hoped most were not quite
prepared for the strong individual character and power of
self-determination that revealed themselves in the girlish being so
suddenly transferred "from the nursery to the throne." It was quickly
noticed that the part of Queen and mistress seemed native to her, and
that she filled it with not more grace than propriety. "She always
strikes me as possessed of singular penetration, firmness, and
independence," wrote Dr. Norman Macleod in 1860; acute observers in
1837 took note of the same traits, rarer far in youth than in full
maturity, and closely connected with the "reasoning, searching"
quality of her mind, "anxious to get at the root and reality of
things, and abhorring all shams, whether in word or deed." [Footnote]

[Footnote: "Life of Norman Macleod, D.D." vol. ii.]

It was well for England that its young Sovereign could exemplify
virile strength as well as womanly sweetness; for it was indeed a
cloudy and dark day when she was called to her post of lonely
grandeur and hard responsibility; and to fill that post rightly would
have overtasked and overwhelmed a feebler nature. It is true that the
peace of Europe, won at Waterloo, was still unbroken. But already,
within our borders and without them, there were the signs of coming
storm. The condition of Ireland was chronically bad; the condition of
England was full of danger; on the Continent a new period of
earth-shaking revolution announced itself not doubtfully.

It would be hardly possible to exaggerate the wretched state of the
sister isle, where fires of recent hate were still smouldering, and
where the poor inhabitants, guilty and guiltless, were daily living
on the verge of famine, over which they were soon to be driven. Their
ill condition much aggravated by the intemperate habits to which
despairing men so easily fall a prey. The expenditure of Ireland on
proof spirits alone had in the year 1829 attained the sum of
£6,000,000.

In England many agricultural labourers were earning starvation wages,
were living on bad and scanty food, and were housed so wretchedly
that they might envy the hounds their dry and clean kennels. A dark
symptom of their hungry discontent had shown itself in the strange
crime of rick-burning, which went on under cloud of night season
after season, despite the utmost precautions which the luckless
farmers could adopt. The perpetrators were not dimly guessed to be
half-famished creatures, taking a mad revenge for their wretchedness
by destroying the tantalising stores of grain, too costly for their
consumption; the price of wheat in the early years of Her Majesty's
reign and for some time previously being very high, and reaching at
one moment (1847) the extraordinary figure of a hundred and two
shillings per quarter.

There was threatening distress, too, in some parts of the
manufacturing districts; in others a tolerably high level of wages
indicated prosperity. But even in the more favoured districts there
was needless suffering. The hours of work, unrestricted by law, were
cruelly long; nor did there exist any restriction as to the
employment of operatives of very tender years. "The cry of the
children" was rising up to heaven, not from the factory only, but
from the underground darkness of the mine, where a system of pitiless
infant slavery prevailed, side by side with the employment of women
as beasts of burden, "in an atmosphere of filth and profligacy." The
condition of too many toilers was rendered more hopeless by the
thriftless follies born of ignorance. The educational provision made
by the piety of former ages was no longer adequate to the needs of
the ever-growing nation; and all the voluntary efforts made by clergy
and laity, by Churchmen and Dissenters, did not fill up the
deficiency - a fact which had only just begun to meet with State
recognition. It was in 1834 that Government first obtained from
Parliament the grant of a small sum in aid of education. Under a
defective system of poor-relief, recently reformed, an immense mass
of idle pauperism had come into being; it still remained to be seen
if a new Poor Law could do away with the mischief created by the old
one.

Looking at the earliest years of Her Majesty's rule, the first
impulse is to exclaim:

"And all this trouble did not pass, but grew."

It seemed as if poverty became ever more direful, and dissatisfaction
more importunate. A succession of unfavourable seasons and failing
crops produced extraordinary distress; and the distress in its turn
was fruitful first of deepened discontent, and then of political
disturbances. The working classes had looked for immediate relief
from their burdens when the Reform Bill should be carried, and had
striven hard to insure its success: it had been carried triumphantly
in 1832, but no perceptible improvement in their lot had yet
resulted; and a resentful feeling of disappointment and of being
victims of deception now added bitterness to their blind sense of
misery and injury, and greatly exasperated the political agitation of
the ten stormy years that followed.

No position could well be more trying than that of the inexperienced
girl who, in the first bloom of youth, was called to rule the land in
this wild transitional period. Her royal courage and gracious tact,
her transparent truthfulness, her high sense of duty, and her
precocious discretion served her well; but these young excellences
could not have produced their full effect had she not found in her
first Prime Minister a faithful friend and servant, whose loyal and
chivalrous devotion at once conciliated her regard, and who only used
the influence thus won to impress on his Sovereign's mind "sound
maxims of constitutional government, and truths of every description
which it behoved her to learn." The records of the time show plainly
that Lord Melbourne, the eccentric head of William IV's last Whig
Administration, was not generally credited with either the will or
the ability to play so lofty a part. His affectation of a lazy,
trifling, indifferent manner, his often-quoted remonstrance to
impetuous would-be reformers, "Can't you let it alone?" had earned
for him some angry disapproval, and caused him to be regarded as the
embodiment of the detested _laissez-faire_ principle. But under his
mask of nonchalance he hid some noble qualities, which at this
juncture served Queen and country well.

Considered as a frivolous, selfish courtier by too many of the
suffering poor and of their friends, he was in truth "acting in all
things an affectionate, conscientious, and patriotic part" towards
his Sovereign, "endeavouring to make her happy as a woman and popular
as a Queen," [Footnote] telling her uncourtly truths with a blunt
honesty that did not displease her, and watching over her with a
paternal tenderness which she repaid with frank, noble confidence. He
was faithful in a great and difficult trust; let his memory have due
honour.

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

Under Melbourne's pilotage the first months of the new reign went by
with some serenity, though the political horizon remained threatening
enough, and the temper of the nation appeared sullen. "The people of
England seem inclined to hurrah no more," wrote Greville of one of
the Queen's earliest public appearances, when "not a hat was raised
nor a voice heard" among the coldly curious crowd of spectators. But
the splendid show of her coronation a half-year later awakened great
enthusiasm - enthusiasm most natural and inevitable. It was youth and
grace and goodness, all the freshness and the infinite promise of
spring, that wore the crimson and the ermine and the gold, that sat
enthroned amid the ancient glories of the Abbey to receive the homage
of all that was venerable and all that was great in a mighty kingdom,
and that bowed in meek devotion to receive the solemn consecrating
blessing of the Primate, according to the holy custom followed in
England for a thousand years, with little or no variation since the
time when Dunstan framed the Order of Coronation, closely following
the model of the Communion Service. Some other features special to
_this_ coronation heightened the national delight in it. Its
arrangements evidently had for their chief aim to interest and to
gratify the people. Instead of the banquet in Westminster Hall,
which could have been seen only by the privileged and the wealthy, a
grand procession through London was arranged, including all the
foreign ambassadors, and proceeding from Buckingham Palace to
Westminster Abbey by a route two or three miles in length, so that
the largest possible number of spectators might enjoy the magnificent
pageant. And the overflowing multitudes whose dense masses lined the
whole long way, and in whose tumultuous cheering pealing bells and
sounding trumpets and thundering cannon were almost unheard as the
young Queen passed through the shouting ranks, formed themselves the
most impressive spectacle to the half-hostile foreign witnesses, who
owned that the sight of these rejoicing thousands of freemen was
grand indeed, and impossible save in that England which, then as now,
was not greatly loved by its rivals. An element which appealed
powerfully to the national pride and the national generosity was
supplied by the presence of the Duke of Wellington and of Marshal
Soult, his old antagonist, who appeared as French ambassador. Soult,
as he advanced with the air of a veteran warrior, was followed by
murmurs of admiring applause, which swelled into more than murmurs
for the hero of Waterloo bending in homage to his Sovereign. A touch
of sweet humanity was added to the imposing scene within the Abbey
through what might have been a painful accident. Lord Rolle, a peer
between seventy and eighty years of age, stumbling and falling as he
climbed the steps of the throne, the Queen impulsively moved as if to
aid him; and when the old man, undismayed, persisted in carrying out
his act of homage, she asked quickly, "May I not get up and meet
him?" and descended one or two steps to save him the ascent. The
ready natural kindliness of the royal action awoke ecstatic applause,
which could hardly have been heartier had the applauders known how
true a type that act supplied of Her Majesty's future conduct. She
has never feared to peril her dignity by descending a step or two
from her throne, when "sweet mercy, nobility's true badge," has
seemed to require such a descent. And her queenly dignity has never
been thereby lessened. "She never ceases to be a Queen," says
Greville _a propos_ of this scene, "and is always the most charming,
cheerful, obliging, unaffected Queen in the world."

[Illustration: Elizabeth Fry]

That "the people" were more considered in the arrangements for this
coronation than they had been on any previous occasion of the sort
was a circumstance quite in harmony with certain other signs of the
times. "The night is darkest before the dawn," and amid all the gloom
which enshrouded the land there could be discerned the stir and
movement that herald the coming of the day. Men's minds were turning
more and more to the healing of the world's wounds. Already one great
humane enterprise had been carried through in the emancipation of the
slaves in British Colonies; already the vast work of prison reform
had been well begun, through the saintly Elizabeth Fry, whose life of
faithful service ended ere the Queen had reigned eight years. The
very year of Her Majesty's accession was signalised by two noteworthy
endeavours to put away wrong. We will turn first to that which
_seems_ the least immediately philanthropic, although the injustice
which it remedied was trivial in appearance only, since in its
everyday triviality it weighed most heavily on the most numerous
class - that of the humble and the poor.

[Illustration: Rowland Hill]

How would the Englishman of to-day endure the former exactions of the
Post Office? The family letters of sixty years ago, written on the
largest sheets purchasable, crossed and crammed to the point of
illegibility, filled with the news of many and many a week, still
witness of the time when "a letter from London to Brighton cost
eightpence, to Aberdeen one and threepence-halfpenny, to Belfast one
and fourpence"; when, "if the letter were written on more than one
sheet, it came under the operation of a higher scale of charges," and
when the privilege of franking letters, enjoyed and very largely
exercised by members of Parliament and members of the Government, had
the peculiar effect of throwing the cost of the mail service exactly
on that part of the community which was least able to bear it. The
result of the injustice was as demoralising as might have been
expected. The poorer people who desired to have tidings of distant
friend or relative were driven by the prohibitory rates of postage
into all sorts of curious, not quite honest devices, to gratify their
natural desire without being too heavily taxed for it. A brother and
sister, for instance, unable to afford themselves the costly luxury
of regular correspondence, would obtain assurance of each other's
well-being by transmission through the post at stated intervals of
blank papers duly sealed and addressed: the arrival of the postman
with a missive of this kind announced to the recipient that all was
well with the sender, so the unpaid "letter" was cheerfully left on
the messenger's hands. Such an incident, coming under the notice of
Mr. Rowland Hill, impressed him with a sense of hardship and wrong in
the system that bore these fruits; and he set himself with strenuous
patience to remedy the wrong and the hardship. His scheme of reform
was worked out and laid before the public early in 1837; in the third
year of Her Majesty's reign it was first adopted in its entirety,
with what immense profit to the Government we may partly see when we
contrast the seventy-six or seventy-seven millions of _paid_ letters
delivered in the United Kingdom during the last year of the heavy
postage with the number exceeding a thousand millions, and still
increasing - delivered yearly during the last decade; while the
population has not doubled. That the Queen's own letters carried
postage under the new regime was a fact almost us highly appreciated
as Her Majesty's voluntary offer at a later date to bear her due
share of the income tax.

It is well to notice how later Postmasters General, successors of
Rowland Hill in that important office, have striven further to
benefit their countrymen. In particular, Henry Fawcett's earnest
efforts to encourage and aid habits of thrift are worthy of
remembrance.

Again, it is during the first year of Her Majesty's reign that we
find Father Mathew, the Irish Capuchin friar, initiating his vast
crusade against intemperance, and by the charm of his persuasive
eloquence and unselfish enthusiasm inducing thousands upon thousands
to forswear the drink-poison that was destroying them. In two years
he succeeded in enrolling two million five hundred thousand persons
on the side of sobriety. The permanence of the good Father's
immediate work was impaired by the superstitions which his poor
followers associated with it, much against his desire. Not only were
the medals which he gave as badges to his vowed abstainers regarded
as infallible talismans from the hand of a saint, but the giver was
credited with miraculous powers such as only a Divine Being could
exercise, and which he disclaimed in vain - extravagances too likely
to discredit his enterprise with more soberly judging persons than


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