Classic History Books


Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

of Leopold of Hohenzollern for the Spanish crown a pretext for war with Prussia, forced on the strife
which was to dethrone himself, to cast down his dynasty, and to despoil France of two fair provinces,

Alsace and Lorraine, once taken from Germany, now reconquered for United Germany. With that strife,

which resulted in the exaltation of the Prussian King, our Princess Royal's father-in-law, as German

Emperor, England had absolutely nothing to do, except to pity the fallen and help the suffering as far as

in her lay; but it awakened profoundest interest, especially while the long siege of Paris dragged on

through the hard winter of 1870-71; hardly yet is the interest of the subject exhausted.

A certain fleeting effect was produced in England by the erection of a New Republic in France in place
of the fallen Empire, while the family of the defeated ruler - rejected by his realm more for lack of

success than for his bad government - escaped to the safety of this country from the angry hatred of their

own. A few people here began to talk republicanism in public, and to commend the "logical superiority"

of that mode of government, oblivious of the fact that practical Britain prefers a system, however

illogical, that actually works well, to the most beautifully reasoned but untested paper theory. But the

wild excesses of the Commune in Paris, outdoing in horror the sufferings of the siege, quickly produced

the same effect here that was wrought in the last century by the French Reign of Terror, and English

republicanism relapsed into the dormant state from which it had only just awakened. The dangerous

illness that attacked the Prince of Wales in the last days of 1871, calling forth such keen anxiety

throughout the land that it seemed as if thousands of families had a son lying in imminent peril of death,

showed at once that the nation was yet loyal to the core. True prayers were everywhere offered up in

sympathy with the mother, the sister, the wife, who watched at the bedside of the heir to the throne; and

when, on the very anniversary of the Prince Consort's death, the life that had seemed ebbing away turned

to flow upward again; a sort of sob of relief rose from the heart of the people, who rejoiced to be able, at

a later day, to share with their Queen her solemn act of thanksgiving for mercy shown, as she went with

her restored son, her son's wife, and her son's sons, to worship and give praise in the great cathedral of St.

Paul's.

Princess Alice, who had shared and softened the grief of her mother ten years before, had been again at
her side during all the protracted anxiety of this winter, and had helped to nurse her brother. The

Princess's experience of nursing had been terribly increased during the awful wars, when she had been

incessantly busied in hospital organisation and work, suffering from the sight of suffering as a sensitive

nature must, but ever toiling to lighten it; and she had come with her children to recover a little strength

in her mother's Highland home. Thus it was that she was found at Sandringham when her brother's illness

declared itself, "fulfilling the same priceless offices" of affection as in her maiden days, and endearing

herself the more to the English people, who grieved for her when, in the ensuing year, a mournful

accident robbed her of one darling child, and who felt it like a personal domestic loss when in 1878 the

beautiful life ended. Other royal marriages have from time to time awakened public interest, and one,

celebrated between the Princess Louise and the Marquis of Lorne, heir of the dukedom of Argyll, had

just preceded the illness of the Prince and was regarded with much more attention because no British

subject since the days of George II's legislation as to royal alliances had been deemed worthy of such

honour. But not even the more outwardly splendid match between the Queen's sailor son, Alfred, Duke

of Edinburgh, and the daughter of the Czar Alexander, could eclipse in popularity the quiet marriage,

overclouded with sorrow, and the tranquil, hard-working life of the good and gifted lady who was to die

the martyr of her true motherly and wifely devotion.

From these glimpses of the joys and troubles affecting the household that is cherished in the heart of
England, we return to the more stormy records of our public doings. A sort of link between the two exists

 

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