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possessed. There was a genial bonhomie and goodnature about him which put every one at their ease. To use a somewhat crude metaphor, Edward the Seventh might have been called a social electric light, which when turned on illuminated everything within reach of its rays.
Of the five monarchs under whom I have lived I have only seen the coronation procession of two,that of King Edward, which I witnessed from a house in Piccadilly, and that of King George V, which I saw in great comfort from Devonshire House.
On the second day of the coronation, rather fearing the crowd, I determined not to accept an invitation I had received to go to a private house along the line of route, and made up my mind to stay at home.
When the time came, however, I could not help going for a little walk to see what was going on, and pursuing my way up Berkeley Street was very much surprised to find hardly any crowd at all, so passing through the huge barrier I made my way into Piccadilly, where there was also no uncomfortable crush. Standing outside the Berkeley Hotel a gentleman came out and most politely begged me to come and join a party in a room he had there, which charming invitation I accepted, and saw the procession in the greatest possible comfort. Though the gentleman, I must add, appeared to know me perfectly well, I could not remember who he was, so if this should meet his eye, I hope he will accept my very sincere thanks for his nice hospitality.
THE FORBIDDEN CITY
In my opinion the barriers undoubtedly marred the rejoicings. These high barricades which were to be seen in every side street ready to be closed and to shut out the people from the line of route of the procession were, I am told, unpopular with the working class, some of whom ironically nicknamed the line of route the Forbidden City. Without doubt the extraordinary precautions taken, and the warnings as to the possibility of huge crowds, fairly frightened the people off the streets and scared away thousands who, as it turned out, might have witnessed the procession in comfort. As a matter of fact during both days there was no time when one could not have walked about in Piccadilly with complete ease; never in all my long experience of public ceremonials have I seen such small crowds.
At the coronation of King Edward I believe a certain number of barricades were put up, but nothing like the great number which at the time of his successor's coronation converted the West End into the semblance of a city prepared for invasion. There can be no possible doubt that at no time during the two days was there ever the slightest real necessity for closing these gates; the crowds, such as they were, being quite amenable and respectful to the authorities, which had looked upon them with such palpable mistrust. The casualties, very few indeed in number, were of an unimportant kind, which was of course brought forward by the defenders of these un-English barricades as a proof of the success of the elaborate
precaution taken; nevertheless it is to be regretted that more discretion was not shown in dispensing with some of the barriers, and erecting the rest only at certain strategic points where crushing was to be expected. The very essence of a successful public ceremony is that it should be as free from restrictions as possible. A cowed and frightened mass of spectators are naturally little disposed to exhibit the enthusiasm without which all public functions lose their meaning. In addition to this it is said that there existed a deep feeling of resentment amongst the working classes at being what they called shut out of the streets; in any case, not a very large number of them seemed to be present, the middle and upper middle classes predominating amongst those who acclaimed King George, who in all probability was quite unaware that the success of his coronation had been marred for thousands owing to the wellmeant but injudicious multiplication of too elaborate precautions.
The old aristocracy-An adroit reply-Anecdotes of queer characters -The last of the Gordons-Stories of the Iron Duke-An ingenious subterfuge-Peers of the old school-Vicissitudes of great families— "Finderne flowers "-Curious old privileges of actors at Drury LaneMatrimonial alliances between the aristocracy and the stage-Romances of the Peerage-The purchase system-Ruthless discipline-The "Wolseley gang"
T was not altogether unnatural that, with a view
to maintaining the prestige of their class, the aris
tocracy of the past should have understood that their best policy was to make their offspring believe that they were the finest people ever born into the world. In some cases, indeed, the latter though they were encouraged to see something of the people, were taught to regard them as beings totally apart. Such a thing as living in close contact with those of inferior caste was unheard of, and no doubt the rigid cleavage which separated the old aristocracy from the rest of the world effected its purpose, for a certain number, owing to being imbued with a spirit of their own superiority, did really develop great qualities, which, in the Senate and on the battlefield, served their country well. Others were able to give free play to an originality which at the present time is almost extinct.
As high and low, rich and poor, are in reality
pretty much alike, the levelling up or down of the different classes, it would seem, rather tends to destroy independence, and produces the monotonous mediocrity which is such a feature of the present time.
The old aristocracy had no idea of apologizing for being aristocrats; they found themselves born into a position of comfort and command and did not see any necessity for explaining, as some of the same class appear to do to-day, that they were not such bad people after all.
Argument and explanation are not good weapons against revolutionaries, and for this reason perhaps few modern peers are capable of defeating Socialists in a battle of words.
Few of those born, as the old saying is, with a silver spoon in their mouth are a match for opponents with nothing to lose.
The late King of the Belgians, who, as every one knows, was an extremely clever man, on one occasion, however, by an adroit answer, utterly routed an individual of very advanced views. The latter by nature was half revolutionary, half snob. In the course of a conversation with the King, whose diplomatic talents and tact were exceptional, this advocate of a new order of things having been quite charmed, said, My only regret, your majesty, is that you should be a King when you are so admirably equipped by nature to be an ideal President of the Belgian Republic."
"Thank you very much," rejoined King Leopold, "I shall remember your remark when I go to see