Page images
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

QUEEN VICTORIA. OUR last number had hardly appeared when with a

suddenness entirely unexpected by the general public came the death of Queen Victoria and the accession of King Edward VII., events which for the time, to the exclusion of everything else, filled the hearts and minds of British subjects all over the world.

It is not our intention to add one more to the many articles which have attempted to do justice to a great and noble career, or to recount the benefits which the Queen rendered to her people throughout the longest reign in English history. It is a commonplace to say that the last sixty-four years have been a time of transition, of continual developement-political and social. The England and its Empire that Queen Victoria ceased to govern in January last were different indeed from the England and the Empire of June 1837. Over us all the great wave of democracy has never ceased flowing with a growing force, and the Empire which we see to-day is in truth a grand alliance of British democracies, amongst which the throne, far from suffering any diminution of its former grandeur, has become the symbol of our national unity, the one element of the constitution in which all British subjects wherever they may live have an equal share.

Of the Queen's great influence for good in politics and in political life the public has been told by those who know best the inner history of the politics of two generations; and perhaps a third generation will pass before the public itself is put in possession of many of the facts upon which her claim to statesmanship rests. Until that time comes the


people can hari t

rese hot back the hare owed to

The reign m ake a place antogst the most prosperous is car ansas sime, on the whole of peace and of steady progress; of idareasias plenty and diminished hardships, especialit 200ng the poore? enbers of the commanity. In so long a period of our hiscozy it ras inevitable that the natin shoali experience some starp trials and some heavy disasters—the Irish Pamine, the Crimean War, the Indian Motiny, the Soath African War, whose end, alas! the Queen was not to see. He grandfather's reign, only three or four years shorter than her own, covered far greater extremes of national reverse and of national glory-from the loss of the American Colonies to the triumph over

the loss

of the greater that we bere

of the mo


orice pant of the

It is not, however, of the great events of the Queen's reign so much as of the Queen herself that we here wish to speak. In some respects the most remarkable featare of that reign-one which distinguishes it from every other-is the position which the Queen won for herself in the hearts of her subjects. In a constitutional monarchy, where the Sovereign is said to reign and not to govern, it might have been sopposed that the personality of the monarch was a matter of secondary importance, and that so long as the occapant of the throne was surrounded by upright, and wise, and able ministers, no more was required. Queen Victoria has shown that it belonged to the Sovereign, not to the Sovereign's Ministers, to identify the sentiment of popular patriotism with fervent attachment of a personal kind to the throne itself.

In her later years the Queen came to be regarded almost as the mother of her people. There was a personal sympathy between them, a mutual understanding of each other, unlike anything hitherto known in our history. In cases of individual suffering and distress no sympathy was more genuine and more ready than the Queen's. And in the great sorrows of her own life she had the consolation of knowing that her subjects grieved with her. No one ever had a higher sense of duty than the Queen. No one ever was more absolutely true. Great qualities these for Sovereign or for subject. But what more than all gave her unexampled hold upon the hearts of her people was the conviction, instilled into them by her whole life, that she shared with them in their sorrows and their joys—the feeling that they belonged to her and she to them.

the British

for in a world-wthe Queen spreational feeling

The Queen's death united, as if it were a single family, the British race all over the world ; nay, more than the British race, for in a world-wide Empire the loyalty and affection of British subjects of the Queen spread beyond the mere limits of blood relationship. A single national feeling for a common loss was evoked, greater and stronger far than those partial affections and prejudices, class jealousies, and local jarrings, which in ordinary times do so much to keep us apart. The Queen's death, like the Queen's life, helped to bring us together in the sentiment of a common nationality. Never, assuredly, has there been so unanimous an expression of deep feeling on the part of the public as on the occasion of the two days' funeral procession—the neverto-be-forgotten scene of the stately pageant in the Solent as the Royal yacht passed out of sight with the last glow of a winter sunset; and the silent tribute of the countless thousands who on the day following thronged the streets of London.

The curtain has fallen at last on the Queen's reign, and on the ' Victorian Age. The new century has not been long in bringing its changes. We may, and do, look forward to future Sovereigns to show themselves worthy successors of her we mourn to-day; but centuries will come and go before Englishmen see on their ancient throne a greater and better Sovereign than Queen Victoria.

Art. I.-1. Canada, 1760-1900. By Sir John G. BOURINOT.

Cambridge: At the University Press. 2. The Statistical Year-book of Canada, 1899. Issued by

the Department of Agriculture. 3. History of Canada. By CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS. Kegan

Paul, 1898. 4. Canada and the Canadian Question. By GOLDWIN SMITH. 5. The Report and Despatches of the Earl of Durham, her

Majesty's High Commissioner and Governor-General of British North America. Ridgways : Piccadilly, London,

1837. 6. France and England in North America. Seven Parts. By

FRANCIS PARKMAN. George Morang: Toronto, 1899. 7. Handbook of Canada. Published by the British Associa

tion at the Toronto Meeting, 1897. The preoccupation of the British people with the South

African war has prevented them from realising the great strides made in recent years by the Dominion of Canada; and yet future historians of the British Empire will probably note the developement of Canada as the brightest spot in the British Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century. India may be in a state of chronic famine, the clouds may have closed down again in South Africa, but in Canada the long depression seems to have ended, and this young offspring of the British stock, after its chequered struggles with space and climate, appears to be at last entering upon a path of unqualified prosperity. No one who has lately visited Canada can fail to be impressed by the new spirit that is everywhere supreme. Like a young giant refreshed with slumber, Canada is stepping eagerly on the forward path. Her trade is going up by leaps and bounds; her population is now steadily rising; her railways are creeping like a great network over her vast area ; factories and paper-mills are rising at the sides of remote lakes and rivers, new lands are being settled in the far North-West; the glitter of gold is drawing crowds from all the world to the Rockies and the remote Yukon; and lastly—perhaps the greatest miracle of allAmerican capital, hitherto the great rival of Canadian, is being drawn across the border to help Canada in the developement of her great estate. To use that famous figure

« PreviousContinue »