Classic History Books


Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

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,

 

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