Classic History Books


Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

eldest daughter. Too soon those rumours proved true. Even when the prince rode in the splendid Jubilee
procession, a commanding figure in his dazzling white uniform, the cruel malady had fastened on him

that was to slay him in less than a year, proving fatal three months after the death of his aged father had

called him to fill the imperial throne. The nation followed the course of this tragedy with a feverish

interest never before excited by the lot of any foreign potentate, and deeply sympathised with, the

distress of the Queen and of the bereaved empress.

But the year 1892 held in store a blow yet more cruelly felt. The English people were still rejoicing with
the Queen over the betrothal of the Duke of Clarence, eldest son of the Prince of Wales, to his

kinswoman Princess May of Teck, when the death of the bridegroom elect in January plunged court and

people into mourning. That the Queen was greatly touched by the universal sympathy with her and hers

was proved by the pathetic letter she wrote to the nation, and by the frank reliance on their affection

which marked the second letter in which, eighteen months later, she asked them to share her joy in the

wedding of the Duke of York, now heir-presumptive, to the bride-elect of his late brother. This union has

been highly popular, and the Queen's evident delight in the birth of the little Prince Edward of York in

June, 1894, touched the hearts of her subjects, who remembered the deep sorrow of 1892.

Once more they were called to grieve with her, when the husband of her youngest daughter Beatrice,
Prince Henry of Battenberg, who for years had formed part of her immediate circle, died far from home

and England, having fallen a victim to fever ere he could distinguish himself, as he had hoped, in our last

expedition to Ashanti. The pathos of such a death was deeply felt when the prince's remains were brought

home and laid to rest, in the presence of his widow and her royal mother, in the very church at

Whippingham that he had entered an ardent bridegroom. Not all gloom, however, has been Her Majesty's

domestic life in these recent years; she has taken joy in the marriages of many of her descendants; and

the visits of her grandchildren - of whom one, Princess Alice of Hesse, daughter of the well-beloved

Alice of England, became Czarina of Russia only the other day - are a source of keen interest to her.

But there is no selfish absorption in her own family affairs, no neglect of essential duty. The Prince of
Wales and "the Princess" relieve the Queen of many irksome social functions; but she does not shun

these when it is clear to her that her people wish her to undertake them. Witness her willingness to take

part in the Jubilee Thanksgiving services and pageant, despite the feebleness of her advanced age.

We need not dwell long on the rather stormy Parliamentary history of the last decade, on the divisions
and disappointments of the Irish Home Rule party, once so powerful, or on the various attacks aimed at

the Welsh and Scottish Church establishments and at the principle of "hereditary legislation" as

embodied in the House of Lords. Some useful legislation has been accomplished amid all the strife. We

may instance the Act in 1888 creating the new system of County Councils, the Parish Councils Act, the

Factory and Workshops Amendment Act, and the Education Act of 1891 - measures designed to protect

the toiling millions from the evils of "sweating," and to assure their children of practically free education.

Substantial good has been done, whether the reins of power have been held by Mr. Gladstone or by Lord
Salisbury - whose long tenure of office expiring in 1892, the veteran statesman whom he had displaced

again took the helm - or by Lord Rosebery, in whose favour the great leader finally withdrew in 1894

into private life, weary of the burden of State. In 1897 we again see Lord Salisbury directing the destinies

of the mighty empire - a task of exceptional difficulty, now that the gravest complications exist in Europe

itself and in Africa. The horrors suffered by the Armenian subjects of the Turk have called for

intervention by the great powers; but no sooner had Turkish reforms been promised in response to the

 

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