« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
Company had fallen, a tribute to the righteousness of his cause. Whether the Indian loves the British rule better in consequence is a subject on which very few can speak with any authority. That great assembly of nations is a wonder and mystery to all. What goes on over its vast surface, amid all its courts and seats of antique learning, in its temples and mosques, in the villages which which we do not know, and the bazaars which we do not understand, who shall say? But the Indian princes, who are gradually acquiring the habit of presenting themselves at her Majesty's Court, and the native soldiers who will swell the Queen's pageant in June, and who are also acquiring the habit of fighting for her flag in various regions of the earth, may do much towards mutual understanding,-unless they should make the misunderstanding deeper, which also is possible too. India the unchangeable has changed under the Queen's reign as perhaps never before. The East has learned to come to the Westthe West has sent trade, manufactures, crowds of visitors. A certain unity seems to have grown up between the kingdoms which acknowledge the same sovereign. But how far this is to be trusted no man knows.
Beside all these fundamental changes, two great principalities or kingdoms have been added to the empire in India-the Punjab, with its manly races and moderate climate; the mysterious empire of Burmah, rich in barbaric pearl and gold-enough territory and wealth to make a puissant monarch in their own ground alone, but scarcely noted in the vast extent of British possessions.
accession. It was the country of the Company when her Majesty began to reign. The soldiers then were the Company's soldiers, and so were the statesmen, the administrators, the actual rulers. The most exciting period of her his tory, so far at least as our connection with her is concerned, has passed in the Victorian age. The most vigorous effort ever made in the East to shake off British rule was made in 1857 in the Mutiny. It was then that we discovered in Great Britain how close to our pride, our interest, and our heart was the sway of India. No war perhaps ever moved a people so completely, who were themselves out of reach of its atrocities. There was no sacrifice that could have been made, which would have been regarded at home, and by the people, as too much to preserve and recover the great continent which had rebelled against our sway, and to punish those who had insulted the sovereignty of England. The fury was almost individual throughout the length and breadth of the land. When the struggle was finally over and the rebel subdued, the Company had to give place to the Imperial Government, and henceforward there was no authority in India but that of the Queen. The difference was little, in practical matters, but we have been told that the subtle Indian mind found a consolation in its defeat, from the fact that, though the Queen was victorious, the rebel also had a kind of victory in the downfall of the Company. He accepted it as success, and was rather elated than humbled by the fact that the foot which now held him down was a royal foot, and that though the great Queen of the West had triumphed over him and all his ways, yet the
A kinder circle nearer to our hearts, more comprehensible to our
intelligence, of our own race, and sharing all our methods of thought, is formed by the Colonies which go round the world and trace the boundaries of empire, always carrying with them the English tongue and name. Our Colonies are no mushrooms, springing up in a night, no seedlings struggling into artificial being, but well assured, and deeply planted, adopting the Antipodes as if they were its native children, and adding many a blossom of the wilds triumphantly, as if by nature, to the oaken fabric of their native growth. All through this age the influences which form nations have been at work without a pause, persistent, unwearying, with results that sound like the telling of a fairy tale. That great Australia, which is now so teeming with life, so rich in flocks and herds, so busy in all the crafts and arts, possessed, when the reign began, little more than a fringe of settlements round the coast, and even these apparently doomed from their beginning, being built, as some reckless constructors of cheap houses build, upon the foulest dust-heap, a mass of human débris, worse than the uncleanest rinsings of road and stable. mass of convicts discharged out of English prisons, to ease the responsibilities of the home country at the cost of ruining the new, seems to us now an extraordinary foundation on which to plant an honest race or build solid institutions: but fortunately the mistake became apparent before it went too far. In these sixty years Australia has wiped out all trace of its convict settlements, and become one of the most rich and prosperous communities in the world, if community that can be called which is made up of so many states, each a great principality in itself, larger than a French province in former
days, or a German independent duchy. Each, indeed, is a country in itself, with its own Rulers and laws, though all in faithfullest adherence to the Mother country, and Her who represents that Mother with a force and meaning greater perhaps than any other symbolism existing-being in herself the natural Mother to whom that entire world may be said to have been born; for Australia has no happy memory that goes beyond the Queen.
All her prosperities, the great facts of her existence, belong to and have been developed by the great Victorian age. The visitors from that newest of new worlds (though the scientific people say it is so antiquated a world, with its oldfashioned beasts who have survived nowhere else) who are coming to grace the Queen's commemoration are as a class the most wonderful, the most whimsical group that ever monarch invited. They are not nobles and chiefs as in the old world, nor sheep farmers nor golddiggers, nor the aristocracy of merchants, shipowners, and suchlike, as in a perfectly new community they might be. They are Prime Ministers! Imagine a modern sovereign who is able to invite a dozen first officers of State, Premiers of Cabinets and Parliaments-all ruling in her name, putting forth proclamations, making laws which will be known in the courts as 1000th Victoria, and which run under the title of our gracious Sovereign lady the Queen -to her great celebration! When you think of it, so simple as it is, expressed in the soberest everyday words, it is the most memorable invitation, worthy of a Cyrus or an Alexander. All the Prime Ministers! all the Satraps, Tetrarchs, Princes-Palatine, subject kings! It is like great Rome at
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. 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 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
VOL. CLXI.-NO. DCCCCLXXIX.
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
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