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1901.) Eulogies by the Prime Minister and Primate. (13 change with constant increase of public prosperity, without any friction to endanger the peace or stability of our civil life, and at the same time with a constant expansion of an empire which every year grows more and more powerful. We owe all these blessings to the tact, the wisdom, the passionate patriotism, and the incomparable judgment of the Sovereign whom we deplore. The noble lord went on to say he had also to move that they should present their congratulations to his Majesty the King on his accession to the Throne. He felt assured that his Majesty's reign would be distinguished by an anxious desire to maintain the laws of the Kingdom and to promote the happiness and liberty of his subjects.
In seconding the motion, Lord Kimberley endorsed all that Lord Salisbury had said of the Queen's relations with her Ministers, and added that in one case he remembered having pressed upon her Majesty an opinion with which she did not concur, and being constrained afterwards by the course of events to acknowledge to her that her judgment had been sounder than his own.
A very individual and striking contribution to the panegyric of the Peers on the late Queen was furnished by the Archbishop of Canterbury, who, speaking with much emotion, desired to be allowed to say something on behalf of the Church of England, which was connected by peculiarly close ties with the Sovereign.
“For myself,” his Grace continued, “it is impossible to look back over her Majesty's reign without a deep sense of gratitude to God for having given us such a Sovereign to reign over us, a Sovereign whose powers of statesmanship and powers of advising those who had the Government in their hands have been already spoken of, but whose influence as a woman, and, I may add, as a truly religious woman, was far greater than anything which could be exercised by the wisest statesman or the cleverest administrator. Her influence, the character of her Court, the character of the domestic life, of which her subjects were allowed to know something, had a penetrating power which reached far beyond the possibility of our being able to trace it. There can be no question that all society has been the better because the Queen has reigned. There cannot be a question that it has been a blessing to very, very many who know not from whence the blessing flowed. .
She was a religious woman. She prayed for her people. She was a good woman. She set up a true standard of such lives as Christians ought to live. She made us all feel that we were hers and that she desired to be ours, and so throughout the country good people are lamenting her departure. We trust that the Sovereign who has succeeded her will follow in her footsteps as he has told us he means to do; and, whilst our sorrow at the moment seems stronger than any other feeling, we are yet able to add to that sorrow an expression of true loyalty towards the Sovereign who has succeeded."
The motion was agreed to; and the Lord Chancellor having read letters of sympathy with the nation in its loss from the single Chamber of the Greek Parliament and from the Senate of Roumania, their lordships adjourned till February 14.
In the Commons on January 25 the Speaker read letters of sympathy from the Greek Chamber, the Roumanian Chamber of Deputies, and the Servian National Assembly. Mr. Balfour brought in a message from the King, and moved an address in reply; the forms being substantially the same as in the case of the other House. In speaking to the motion Mr. Balfour said that the emotion with which every heart was stirred was caused by our intimately and rightly associating the personality of Queen Victoria with the great succession of events which had filled her reign and the developments of the Empire over which she ruled. In my judgment,” proceeded Mr. Balfour, “the importance of the Crown in our Constitution is not a diminishing but an increasing factor. It is increasing, and must increase, with the growth and development of those free, selfgoverning communities, those new commonwealths beyond the sea, who are bound to us by the person of the Sovereign, who is the living symbol of the unity of the Empire. But it is not given, it cannot, in ordinary course, be given, to a Constitutional Monarch to signalise his reign by any great isolated action. The effect of a Constitutional Sovereign, great as it is, is produced by the slow, constant, and cumulative results of a great ideal and a great example; and of that great ideal and that great example Queen Victoria surely was the first of all Constitutional Monarchs whom the world has yet seen.”
Mr. Balfour also touched very impressively on the life of continuous labour which her Majesty's position threw upon her. “ Short, he said, “as was the interval between the last trembling signature affixed to a public document and final rest, it was yet long enough to clog and hamper the wheels of administration ; and I remember when I saw a vast mass of untouched documents which awaited the hand of the Sovereign of this country to deal with, it was brought vividly before my mind how admirable was the unostentatious patience with which for sixty-three years, through sorrow, through suffering, in moments of weariness, in moments of despondency, it may be, she carried on without intermission her share in the government of this great Empire. The Queen had her reward," he added, “in the undying affection and immemorial recollection of all her subjects, wherever their lot might be cast. She passed away without an enemy in the world, for even those who loved not England loved her. . . . No such reign, no such ending has been known in our history before.” Mr. Balfour concluded a striking speech by bespeaking the expression to the King of the confidence of the Commons that the great interests committed to his charge were safe in his keeping, and the assurance of their loyal support and wishes for all blessings upon his reign.
1901.) Tributes from Sir H. C.-Bannerman and Lord Rosebery. (15
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, in seconding the motion, alluded happily to " a certain homely sincerity of character and life and purpose ” in Queen Victoria “which, amid all the pomp and dignity of her august position, seemed to make the whole world kin.” There was between the Queen and her people, at home and throughout the Empire, "a friendly, tender, almost familiar mutual understanding, which it is almost impossible to put into words. Who can measure,” he asked, “the strength which the existence of a relation such as this between the Sovereign and her people must have given through all these years to this Kingdom and this Empire?”. The Queen's reign Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman held to have been “the most beneficent that had been seen in any nation and in any age of the world.” He then gave expression to the “well-founded confidence" existing that the King would " follow the same line of conduct and adhere to the same principles of life as have worked so much good in the past.' Having alluded to the manifold public services in connection with schemes for the material benefit of the country which the King had rendered as Prince of Wales, Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman concluded by saying that they knew that the King would devote himself, even to a greater degree than he had been able to do in the past, to the promotion of his people's welfare ; and it was an additional satisfaction to them to know that his Majesty would have by his side his august Consort," who had reigned in the hearts of the British people ever since she first set foot on their soil.”
The address having been agreed to, the House adjourned till February 14.
It was generally felt that the sorrow of the nation and the universal sense of loss, personal as well as public, had received no unworthy expression in the debates above summarised. But Lord Rosebery had not been present, or at any rate had not spoken, in the House of Lords on January 25, and the public were conscious of a distinct and valuable addition to the tributes of statesmen to Queen Victoria in a speech delivered by him on January 30 at a special meeting of the governors of the Corporation of the Royal Scottish Hospital in London.
"I venture to say,” observed Lord Rosebery, in the course of this impressive utterance, “that there is not an intelligent home, or scarcely an intelligent home, throughout the world that has not been profoundly moved by the death of this illustrious woman. ... Probably every subject in Great Britain realises that he has lost his greatest and his best friend. But they do not understand of what enormous weight in the councils of the world we are deprived by the death of our late Sovereign. She gave to the councils of Great Britain an advantage which no talents, no brilliancy, no genius, could supply. She had reigned for sixty-three years. For sixty-three years she had known all that was to be known about the political condition of her country. For sixty-three years she had been in communication
with every important Minister and with every important public man. She had, therefore, a fund of knowledge which no constitutional historian has ever had at his command. That by the stroke of death is lost to us to-day. .
But have you realised what the personal weight of the late Queen was in the councils of the world ? She was by far the senior of all the European Sovereigns. She was, it is no disparagement to other Kings to say, the chief of all the European Sovereigns. The German Emperor was her grandson by birth. The Emperor of Russia was her grandson by marriage. She had reigned eleven years when the Emperor of Austria came to his throne. She had seen two dynasties pass from the throne of France. She had seen, as Queen, three monarchs of Spain, and four Sovereigns of the House of Savoy in Italy. In all those kingdoms which have been carved out of the Turkish Empire she had seen the foundation of their reigning dynasties. Can we not realise, then, what a force the personal influence of such a Sovereign was in the troubled councils of Europe ? And when, as we know, that influence was always given for peace, for freedom, and for good government, we feel that not merely ourselves but all the world has lost one of its best friends. She saw, and she perceived, and she realised that the essential dignity of the Throne does not lie in pomps and palaces, though these, too, are necessary in their way, but in the dignity of supreme example; and the watchwords of her life, so far as we could discern them, were duty and sympathy." Having dwelt on these aspects of Queen Victoria's life, Lord Rosebery concluded : “I think it will be said of the Queen by history that under her auspices we climbed the ascending path of empire for over sixty-three years, that she gave her name to an epoch beside which the glories of the age of Elizabeth seem poor and pale, that she enlarged and consolidated the foundations of the British Monarchy to an extent which would have seemed incredible to those who had known what the British Monarchy was at her accession. To us who lived under and with her she will not live as any of these; but rather as wife, as mother, as woman-woman who in the most conspicuous place in the world set a most conspicuous example of conduct and character."
Thus was the tribute of the statesmen made complete. That of the people was paid on many occasions and in thousands of places, but notably in the profoundly sorrowful aspect of the congregations of places of worship of all denominations on the Sunday immediately following the Queen's death, when the clergy and ministers everywhere made the Queen's character and life-work the subject of their addresses. But above all was the national mood exhibited in the demeanour of the populace on the day, or rather days, of the great public funeral. “In essence," as was pointed out by the Spectator, that ceremonial
was throughout of the simplest character possible—merely a
[17 procession, first on sea and then on land, escorting the dead body to the tomb. But the number of those who claimed, and had a right, either personally or through their representative character, to follow the coffin was so great that out of the simple procedure of a military funeral grew a great pageant.” A great pageant indeed it was, divided into three very clearly marked stages, each possessing its own peculiar impressiveness. It was the Queen's wish that her obsequies, as those of the head of all the naval and military forces of the British Empire, should be of a martial character, and so her funeral car from Osborne to Frogmore was a gun-carriage, borne on which her coffin was covered with a pall of white satin embroidered with gold and surmounted by the Imperial Crown, the Orb, and Sceptre. It was followed from the Queen's island home to East Cowes by his Majesty King Edward, as chief mourner, on foot, with the German Emperor walking on his right and the Duke of Connaught on his left, and other members of the Royal Family. Queen Alexandra and the Princesses also followed on foot. At East Cowes the coffin was carried on board the Royal yacht Alberta, which bore it thence to Portsmouth. From port to port, across the eight miles of sea, an avenue was formed, the northern side of which consisted entirely of British battleships and cruisers, while the southern was made up of eight British first-class torpedo gunboats, of ocean liners, including two which had the Lords and Commons on board, and of foreign men-of-war. Between these majestic lines, representing the naval and mercantile power of England and the fleets of sympathetic nations, the slight yacht passed, preceded by a double file of eight grim torpedo-destroyers, painted black from stem to stern, and followed by the Victoria and Albert, with the King and Royal party on board, the great German warship Hohenzollern, and other Royal yachts, on one of which was a band playing Chopin’s “Funeral March.” Its sad strains were taken up by the band of each of the great stationary ships, while the gunwales, bridges and tops of each of them were manned by bluejackets, and salutes were fired from their guns as the Alberta passed them with its sacred burden. Over all the scene of mournful and stately symbolism there shone the glow of a winter's sunset of singular beauty.
Having lain on board the Alberta in Portsmouth harbour through the night of February 1, the Royal coffin, with all the august mourners who had accompanied it from Osborne, proceeded on the following morning by the London, Brighton and South Coast line to London. No stoppage was made on the way, and the weather in the early forenoon was unfavourable, but not only at the stations through which the funeral train passed were many people gathered to pay their respectful and sorrowful salutes, but frequently, it was recorded, the touching sight was to be seen of companies of labourers and country folk standing bareheaded in the pouring rain in the fields.” Victoria Station was