Page images

her greatest, when she was far less Mistress of the world. To think of that great circle of loyal governments makes the head of the spectator whirl round. There were no prime ministers in Australia when Queen Victoria ascended her throne. People were still building, protesting, upon that dust-heap, which the mother country had "shot" upon their shores. Now the shores are clean, they are royal, washed by broad seas upon which Australian ships go to and fro, fringing a great interior, in which a vast world of life and labour exists-in which they elect parliaments and form cabinets, and make great fortunes, and try great experiments for our edification and their own without however pulling out of gear the noble elastic machinery of government, which they have carried with them across the seas, and by which they rule and obey, perfecting themselves in all the high principles of Power.

Once we lost a great colony, chiefly perhaps by our own folly, very few people in Great Britain knowing exactly how, and still fewer caring. It was a loss which even at the time was regarded without bitterness, and never has much troubled the British mind since, though our American friends love to think that we keep up a grudge on the subject. And when Queen Victoria ascended the throne there was a great deal of foolish indifference about our other outlying possessions, and newspapers and philosophers were fond of reminding them that they might go if they pleased, and that nobody would lift a finger to retain them. But it is a very different thing dealing with men and with mechanical forces, however great, or even Science, however wise. We have spoken of the two great Servants of

the Queen, who have made her reign illustrious, and extended her power over all the world, without being more than dumb obedient forces, put together by men's hands. Her Majesty has had no personal influence upon the benevolent yet terrible Dæmons of Electricity and Steam. But when we come into higher spheres and have to consider the human offshoots of her empire, those who make up the Greater Britain which circles all the seas, the goodly race of Sons which gird us about, out-measuring, out-numbering our original empire, but never out-growing the family bond, we cannot fail to feel that the Queen's name, her influence, her character, the unique and great personality which all the world recognises, has had an almost incalculable part in reviving that old passion of loyalty which had dropped for a time, and looked as if it were never to be a living influence more. Sixty years since it would have been folly to calculate upon that visionary principle as anything appreciable in the economy of State. The romantic thinker who considered it at all as a possible influence of any importance would for very shame have laughed a little at himself, to deprecate the laughter of others at the mention of anything belonging so entirely to the old world, to the days when kings were served by subjects on their knees, and the touch of a royal hand was believed to cure one of the most deeply rooted of maladies-such were the opinions of 1837. But that is sixty years since. Now we have pushed Modernity, as the clever people call it, to the farthest bounds. And whence comes this old loyalty, this ancient passion, which has sprung up amongst us more warm, more strong, than it has been for hundreds of years ?

The house of Hanover never roused that passion to any individual force until it came to flower in VICTORIA, in a moment not favourable to royalty, when sentiment had abandoned the throne, and kings counted for little in the history of the world. Kings everywhere are a very different class now from what they were sixty years since. The Queen

has had no doubt her share even in that general enhancement of her office which has taken place over the world; but in her own sphere there is no factor so great in the unity which binds the empire together as it never was bound before.

The most distant settlement of her dominions is proud of her, of her history and her name. The only Queen! no one to compete with her, no other to approach her pre-eminence; the Mother, the Friend, ever watchful, ever sympathetic, never failing in the true word, either for sorrow or or for joy. We be the sons of one man, said the children of Jacob. We are the children of one Mother, is the meaning of the shout that will go round the earth on the approaching day of triumph. Few, very few, among us are more than her contemporaries; most of us, wherever we have been born, in the three home kingdoms, in Canada, in Australia, in every colony, have been born into her reign. The first conscious cheer of the great majority of her subjects has been for the Queen, and to a large proportion of the earth's inhabitants that name must seem as if it had endured for ever, never beginning, never ending, the one certain symbol of life, patriotism, and union over land and sea!

There is nothing, as is well established in history, that a woman does so well as to reign. It pleases us to say that she lacks genius for


the other greatest arts; but in this she has ever held an uncontested place, as high as the highest, needing no excuse on the ground that she is only a woman. And to make up for the defects of nature in the other branches of pre-eminence, we may add that in this she has a something more, a visionary addition of power, ineffable, not to be measured by ordinary standards. The tie is warmer, softer, between her and her peoples than ever is woven between man and man. When she is the Friend of the whole world, she is a nearer Friend, more sympathetic, more personal. A sense of Motherhood steals into the relationship. The Queen is a Monarch and more. And Loyalty has come again into being under her hand. It has grown with her unconsciously, without notice, a Queen's Son, long hidden in the obscurity of the pupil state, growing with the growth and strengthening with the strength of her other sons, her children whom she has sent out to the ends of the world. And lo! that which was all but non-existent in 1837 is in 1897 a young giant, renewed in every faculty, the same poetical, magnificent henchman who stood by the Henries in old England, the Jameses in old Scotland, the chivalrous races by whom he was cherished,-now coming swift from empires of the earth which no Henry or James ever heard of, to stand by the Queen!

We have mentioned Australia by name among our distant brethren. But Canada should come first, the oldest, the most faithful. We remember the time when the bond was very loose indeed which bound that great colony to the mother country. We talked of it with philosophy, as a thing quite likely, neither to be resisted nor

2 U


resented, that she should break away. The "temptations to belong to other nations," which our witty singer has insisted upon, were stronger in her case than in any other and there were already two nations within herself struggling for the mastery. There were rebellions, great enough to warrant that name, and the country was torn asunder, two languages, two forms of faith. Had any wise prophets spoken and many did-upon the prospects of Canada then, how extraordinary would their predictions sound now?-for these predictions considered nothing so likely as dismemberment, disruption, a drifting to one side or another, a casting off of all effete and useless connection with an old-world monarchy scarcely strong enough to maintain itself. 'Tis sixty years since, and wisdom has turned into folly, as it so often does. There is no Cassandra now that we know of except perhaps Mr Goldwin Smith, who has played that part so long and cannot drop it easily. And Canada stands first among the loyal followers and subjects, proud of their allegiance, proud of their monarch, who will follow in the Queen's procession. She has doubled and trebled her wealth, her trade, her inhabitants; but the greater she has grown individually, the more faithful has she become amid the august family, the loving Servants of the Queen.

What shall we say of that other mysterious continent which is now seething in the primeval pot of history, knowing not what is to come of it any more than we do who look on? It is the most as tonishing, the most exciting, of all sights to see a world, as it were, in the making: palpitating at all points, uneasy, struggling into existence as we all did once, but so

long ago that we have little remembrance and no record of the struggle. Did our painted warriors affront the Roman arms, something as the Mashona and Matabele have done, but with so much better augury, as being themselves one of the fortunate races, which no black tribe seems to be? When Queen Victoria ascended the throne the Dark Continent had not even begun to be called the Dark Continent, so entirely unknown was it : nothing but an apocryphal chant of Mungo Park's village women coming out of it, or news, which we thought apocryphal too, of sources, never discovered, of the Nile. Livingstone, the missionary; Speke and Grant, the wandering explorers ; Baker,-a gradually growing line of pilgrims revealed to us faintly such a dim world of savagery, so hopeless a maze of deadly jungle, deadly rivers, marshes, insects, as seemed to take all possibility of practical advantage to the world out of it. But the riches hidden in its bosom were enough to make every danger bearable, and gold and diamonds were more immediately tempting than even the thought of new empires to be formed. What is to come of it all? Will half-a-dozen empires grow, or one, overtopping all others? Will the wild

continent become human, fished out of the darkness, illuminated by modern lights and tracked by modern railways, and brought under settled laws of order and peace?

Meantime the civilised races have gone down upon the heart and centre of the obstinate land which has kept its secrets so long, like, shall we say, the children of Israel upon the land of Canaan? The Hebrews out of the desert came in the course of Nature to sweep away, or at least to dethrone from the sovereignty, a race which

had not proved worthy of its part in the great drama. We have no divine sanctions nowadays, but the precedents of history tend all in one way. The whole continent trembles, the shadows break up from every side, the ancient inhabitants fight or flee. It is from the abodes of cruelty, the temples of blood, that they are disturbed; but, notwithstanding, it is the same process which has been carried on as long as we know what has happened in the world. Already the Queen's empire has been extended indefinitely in a new world, which was virtually undiscovered when she began to reign; but what will be the end of these agitations who can tell? When, sixty years hence, new chroniclers continue the tale of what has happened, no doubt they will have a story to tell which will excel in wonder, at least so far as concerns that portion of the earth's surface, all that has gone before. They will look back, and wonder at the chaos out of which is surging darkly a new Africa. They will drill their armies and mint their coin and take their railway-tickets with amused comments upon all that was and was not sixty years since. We may believe we know, but we will not attempt to predict, what that may be.

We must now come to a more intimate circle, and attempt to record something of the changes that have happened in this particular home of our own during the Queen's reign. It is too delicate a matter to enter at any length into the questions of the Church, so important, but so intricate and unfit for the touch of a lay hand. What we call the Low Church was then uppermost in England: what we call the High Church is dominant now. The differences belong

to a historical region in which we have no standing-ground and which has many notable exponents. In Ireland the Protestant Episcopal Church has perished altogether, so far as its connection with the State is concerned. In Scotland the national Presbyterian Establishment has been rent in two. But the Church everywhere being more venerable than the State, is subject to revolutions of its own, which do not work as in the outside world, but roll on in successive waves, altering the exterior but never the inner allegiance, which remains intact through all convulsions. Costumes and ceremonies, organisations and rituals, wax and wane, but Faith and Piety stand fast, we hope and believe, for ever. Any discussion, however, of ecclesiastical matters would be quite inappropriate in our hands.

But we hope that true religion has not suffered either in one kingdom or in another; and there can be no doubt that the amount of energy and devotion to Christian work has by all practical tests increased. The Churches have more to do, and do more, than perhaps they ever have done. We believe we are justified in saying there is scarcely a slum anywhere, certainly not in London, where there is not a trained and eager band, lay and clerical, knowing everybody and everything, and fighting for all they know, for all they are worth, according to the happy slang of the moment, for the help of the wretched. If charity covereth a multitude of sins, let us rejoice to think that the peccadilloes of the ecclesiastical classes, which they have no doubt like other people, are hidden under a glistening mantle of goodwill to men.

As for Education, it may be said that there was none in the be

lege of forgetting it as soon as learned, of which we cannot deprive him-a privilege of which many take advantage; but except in this way the mandate of the State cannot be resisted, and every child must learn something.

ginning of the reign. Except in Scotland, where we believe the old system of parish schools stood the test as well as its scanty means permitted till it was swallowed up in a larger scheme, everything was of the most haphazard description. It was not till the forties (we think) that there was any system of school inspection or organised attempt to keep so important a branch of imperial business under any supervision or control; but the whole Victorian age since then has been marked by one continuous effort after improvement and efficiency in this department. Whether the steps taken have been uniformly wise, and the result arrived at all that could be desired, is a very different matter; but-which is all that mortal exertions are able to compass the endeavour has never been dropped, and has come at last to a level never reached before, a most strenuous attempt to teach everybody and beat ignorance, the legitimate Ignorance for which, in England at least, most people have a sneaking kindness, off from our shores. No prejudice against education, so far as we know, has ever existed in Scotland, perhaps because the advantages of it have been so forcibly impressed on the mind of that poorer country from an early period; but even in this age of enlightenment there are many in England who hanker after the old times in which children picked up a great deal of knowledge by their five (or was it seven?) senses, and letters were little known. Now, however, the child, who could contentedly grow up without a notion of his alphabet in the early Victorian days, would have to fight as for his life against all the powers of the law if he would avoid a certain amount of instruction now. He has in his This revolution has gone secure possession the glorious privi- throughout the land into every

We have throughout declined the aid of statistics in a simple review of the Queen's reign, which pretends to no scientific accuracy. The things which have passed under our own eyes are all that we have attempted to comment upon-and in nothing more than the facilities of education are these changes to be found. Little dames' schools, humble classes in which the teacher knew little more than the pupils, every kind of chance agency without supervision or guarantee; a few National Schools, so called; some of the British and Foreign or other Societies of a similar character; a vast number of private adventures, without test or standard,-in these haphazard ways were English children of the poorer classes inoculated, for it was scarcely more, with a little vague instruction at the beginning of the reign. Now it is a problem how any child can escape from the wide-reaching system, or any father or mother, except by the most elaborate precautions and an unremitting fight, withdraw him from the necessity of learning, or seeming to learn. We suppose that if a Duke should make up his mind to bring up his son in ignorance of the arts of reading and writing he might succeed in his purpose, for the privacy of a ducal household is hard to break; but it would be difficult for any one of less importance to achieve that feat, except by an amount of clever scheming much out of proportion to the effect to be attained.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »