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Various Occurrences in 1871

Various Occurrences in 1871 - Marriage of the Princess Louise - Sir Charles Dilke's Lecture - Illness of the Prince of Wales - The Electors of Greenwich - Public Meetings - Working of the Education Bill: The Twenty-fifth Clause: Justification of it - Napoleon lands at Dover - Resignation of the Speaker - Prince Arthur's Visit to Ireland - Riot m the Phoenix Park - Disaffection still rife in Ireland - Rise of the Home Rule Movement: Mr. Gladstone's Speech on it - Assassination of Judge Norman - Resolutions on Inter-Colonial Trade adopted by the Australian Colonies - Conference on the Black Sea Treaty: A new Treaty drawn up and agreed to: The Representative of Prance joins the Conference: Judicious Behaviour of the British Government.
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The marriage of Her Majesty's fourth daughter, the Princess Louise, to the Marquis of Lorne, the eldest son of the Duke of Argyll, was celebrated with great state at "Windsor Castle on the 21st March, 1871. For the first time since the passing of the Royal Marriage Act in 1772, a descendant of George II. married a commoner with the full consent and approval of the reigning sovereign. The Queen stood by her daughter's side during the ceremony, which was performed by the Bishop of London, assisted by the Bishop of Winchester, and gave the Princess away.

A lecture given at Newcastle in August by Sir Charles Dilke, one of the members for Chelsea, on the subject of " Representation and Royalty," excited much comment. The father of Sir Charles obtained his baronetcy, not for services in the field or services afloat, not as a great artist or a captain of industry, but for making himself generally useful to Prince Albert, when the latter was engaged in superintending the arrangements for the Industrial Exhibition in 1851. It was certainly a curious circumstance that a member of a family which had been exceptionally favoured and advanced in the world through the institution of royalty should attempt to kick down the ladder by which it had mounted to distinction; yet so it was. Desiring to recommend to his hearers republican simplicity and cheapness, and forgetting that there are institutions, as there are public characters, which are dear at any price, Sir Charles Dilke enlarged on the terrible expensiveness of royalty to the nation. The positive and direct cost of the institution he estimated at about a million a year; he complained of the large sums, spent on royal yachts, and of the scandalous exemption by which, as he said, Her Majesty's income was not subject to the payment of income tax. On all these points full and satisfactory answers were made to the allegations of the honourable baronet. The bulk of the expenditure incurred in the support of British royalty - namely, the Civil List - is really not one bit more an expense to the country than the rental of Woburn Abbey or Trentham Park, or the dividends received by Sir Charles Dilke himself on any India or railway stock that he may have inherited from his father. The Queen receives nearly £400,000 a year in respect of the Civil List from the general revenue; but she gives up to the general revenue rents which amount pretty nearly to the same annual total. These are the rents of the Crown lands, which belong to Her Majesty by exactly the same title that Trentham belongs to the Duke of Sutherland; but which, by a fair and equitable bargain, she abandons to the nation in exchange for the Civil List. With regard to the royal yachts, the chief of them - the Royal Victoria and Albert - is, as is well known, a vessel of war; and if a severe naval war broke out, would doubtless be used as such: it is idle, therefore, to lay her cost solely to the account of royalty. With regard to the exemption from income tax, it appeared on inquiry that there was nothing scandalous in the matter, except the assertion of Sir Charles Dilke, which turned out to be absolutely unfounded, the Queen having paid income tax from the day of its first imposition. Strange to say, the lecture excited in the lower classes rather a disgust of Republicanism than the opposite feeling, as the riotous conduct of the mob at several subsequent gatherings of Sir Charles Dilke's disciples and adherents plainly evinced.

Before the close of the year testimony of the most direct and unimpeachable character was furnished to the republican lecturer, supposing him to be open to conviction, that the currents of feeling which sway the popular heart tend not in the slightest degree towards that bourn of prosaic and democratic economy which is the Utopia of dull and dry men. Early in November, the Prince of Wales paid a visit for a few days to Lord Londesborough's seat near Scarborough. It was supposed that there was some defect in the drainage of the house, which stands close to the sea, and that the seeds of typhoid fever were thus implanted in the Prince's frame. After his return to Sandringham he was taken ill, the fever being of a low and lingering type, and continued in much the same condition for several weeks, during which Her Majesty, accompanied by Prince Leopold and Princess Beatrice, visited Sandringham. On the 1st December, the Prince appearing to be no worse, the Queen returned to Windsor. That some dangerous miasma lurked in the precincts of Londesborough Lodge seemed to be proved by the death, on this same day, of the Earl of Chesterfield, who had been one of the party invited to the house to meet the Prince, and was attacked by a fever of the same kind in so severe a form that he sank from collapse. A groom who had been in attendance on the Prince during the same visit was also attacked.

During November, and till the end of the first week of the following month, no serious symptoms appeared, and the attack was supposed to be passing away; but, on the 8th December, a decided relapse declared itself, and for several days the life of the Prince of Wales was in the most imminent danger. Then was seen in a very remarkable manner how great a benefit is conferred upon a nation divided into so many political parties, and so many, more or less hostile, religious camps, as is our England at the present day, by the possession of an ancient historical throne which we all alike regard with loyal affection.

When the life of our Prince, the heir to that throne, was in danger, the democratic logic ran off our minds like water, and nature and feeling resumed their rights. The Queen, accompanied by some and followed by others of her children, hurried again to Sandringham. The feeling all over the country, in every English household, was as if a member of the family circle had been smitten with dangerous illness by the inscrutable decree of an all-wise Providence. The aspect of London on those days is well described in the following- contemporary narrative. " The excitement in London on the publication of the early editions of the evening papers yesterday afternoon was intense. Crowds of eager inquirers gathered round the various newspaper offices, as well as round the shops and stalls of the newsvendors, and earnest conversations were carried on. At Marlborough House the telegrams were watched for by large numbers of persons, who remained standing on the pavement, and out in the street, regardless of the piercing cold, and anxious only to learn the latest intelligence as speedily as possible. As might be expected, the excitement here became very great on the arrival of a telegram; and in a few minutes after the messenger had brought in the intelligence the door was opened, the people were admitted, and copies were distributed to the fortunate individuals who were enabled to get near the office. Some one or other of the recipients would then read the document aloud to those who were waiting outside. Immediately on the receipt of one of these messages a copy was dispatched to the head office of the Metropolitan Police in Scotland Yard, and the intelligence was instantly telegraphed to every police-station within the metropolitan district. At all these stations there were numbers of persons waiting during the day, many of whom came from considerable distances, especially in the rural districts. From the provincial towns we learn that equal anxiety was shown all over the country."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, by the desire of the Queen, composed appropriate forms of prayer, which were used on and after the 10th December, for several days, in every church and chapel of the Church of England throughout the realm. Archbishop Manning ordered prayers with the like intention to be offered up in all Roman Catholic places of worship; nor was the strain of supplication less fervent in the chapels of the Dissenters, or the synagogues of the Jews. With wonderful " petitionary vehemence " was the safety of that life implored from heaven; and that life was spared. On the night of Wednesday the 14th December, a slight turn for the better took place in the worst symptoms, and the invalid enjoyed the long-desired boon of refreshing sleep. From that time he gradually, though slowly, rose to convalescence, and ultimately to perfect health. The groom who had been attacked by the fever, after progressing favourably for some time, had a relapse, and died on the 18th December. We have reason to believe that when the Prince came to know the extent of his danger, and the strength of the people's affection, a deep and salutary impression was left upon his mind; and that the new lease of life and health so mercifully granted to him witnessed the formation of a sober and devout resolution to be fully worthy of England's love.

After the health of the Prince was completely re-established, on the 27th February in the following year, a solemn service of Thanksgiving, attended both by the Queen and by the Prince himself, was held in St. Paul's Cathedra». The weather was all that could be desired; and although the line of the procession from Buckingham Palace to the Cathedral was thronged by immense multitudes of people, no accident and no mistake occurred. Her Majesty was received by the Lord Mayor at Temple Bar, and by the Bishop of London and the Dean and Chapter at the western gate of the Cathedral. The arrangements for the service were made with great precision of etiquette and pomp of ceremonial. A " Te Deum," composed for the occasion by Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Goss, was first sung by a choir of 250 voices, selected from the best cathedral and chapel choirs in England. Then the special form of Thanksgiving was read, and after a sermon from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the congregation was dismissed, care having been taken to reduce the whole service within such reasonable limits that the Prince's strength might be equal to it. In the evening, St. Paul's and the principal streets were magnificently illuminated.

All through the year a growing dissatisfaction was felt with the conduct of the Government, and exhibited itself in various ways. A portion of the electors of Greenwich, irritated, it would seem, at the continued slackness of the shipbuilding trade at Deptford (though it is difficult to see how the Premier could fairly be made answerable for that), sent a requisition to Mr. Gladstone, their member, couched in most uncomplimentary terms, demanding of him the resignation of his seat. Several public meetings were held and largely attended, while the fate of Paris still hung in the balance, to protest against the apathy and inaction of the Government, which had the effect of effacing this country from European politics. In March and April, several demonstrations of " Red Republicans " in London aimed at awakening sympathy for their friends who were fighting for the Commune in Paris. But neither their numbers nor the quality of their speakers were in the least formidable. On the other hand, the impartial lover of his country could not but acknowledge that much was due to a Government which had framed and carried a measure which now, for the first time since England was a nation, carried the healthful influences of primary instruction into every corner of the land. During the last half of 1870 and the first months of 1871, the Education Department was actively employed in gaining, through its inspectors and agents, the necessary statistical information required for the effectual working of the Act. Great progress had been made in this respect by the summer of 1871, and nearly three hundred school boards, elected under the provisions of the Education Act, were established in the course of the year. Unfortunately, a little rift of dissidence, interrupting that perfect accord with which the measure had been at first received by all the friends of education, made its appearance about this time, and has since, as we all know, widened into a yawning breach. This divergence of opinion related to the 25th Clause. By this clause it was provided that in districts where there was a school board, if there were any children whose parents pleaded poverty as an excuse for not sending them to school, and the board admitted the plea as a good one, such children should be placed at any Government school within the school-board district which the parent or guardian might prefer, their fees at such schools being paid by the board. On the face of it., there seems nothing unequal or unfair in such a provision, since it applies equally to all sects and denominations. But the Dissenters considered that in practice the clause would act to the exclusive benefit of the Church of England, to which, as the Church of the majority, all destitute parents who have no special connection with any other religious body naturally gravitate. The children of educational paupers, or nine out of ten of them, would thus be indubitably sent, they thought, to Church schools, where they would be taught the Church Catechism and whatever else is distinctive of Anglicanism at the expense of the rates, which would thus be indirectly drawn upon on behalf of a Church which is too rich and too independent of the laity already. As a matter of fact, the number of these educational paupers, the whole land over, has as yet been very small. Circumstances, however, might easily be imagined under which their numbers would greatly increase, and then the grievance resented by the Dissenters would immediately arise. Nor can it be denied that, if we were to look at the Church of England from their point of view, we must own it to be a real grievance. The upholders of the scheme argued, on the other hand, thus. If the Church of England (they said) were a sect like the Quakers or the Independents, in which the principle of association depended on the subjective views of its founders and establishers, a clause which worked mainly for its benefit, and poured public money into its lap, would unquestionably be a grievance. But the Church of England is a part of the constitution of the English nation; it really belongs just as much to the Dissenter who repudiates as to the Churchman who embraces it; it is, indeed, tied to the profession of certain opinions, but it is much more than this; it is the nation considered in its Christian aspect; and, therefore, it is a simple and natural arrangement that those who, through their fault or misfortune, have fallen outside of all religious and almost all social organisation should, on their restoration in the person of their children, be first aggregated to that system which most nearly represents the mind and will of the nation at large.

About the time that the new-made Emperor of Germany was making his triumphal entry into Berlin, another Emperor, exchanging his palace-prison for the land where he was to live as an exile, set foot, not for the first time, on the hospitable shores of England. The war being at an end, and the treaty of peace signed, the Emperor Napoleon was free to leave Wilhelmshöhe. He arrived at Dover by steamer from Ostend on the afternoon of the 20th March. The day was fine, and the Empress and her son, the Prince Imperial, had come down from Chislehurst to welcome the liberated captive. What thoughts, what recollections, must have streamed through the mind of the Empress, as she threw herself, all dissolved in tears, on the breast of the man from whom she had last parted amid the fanfare of trumpets, the adulation of a glittering suite, and all the imperial splendours of the Tuileries! All staked since then Î and all lost! The Prince, following the kindly continental custom, kissed his father on both cheeks. The crowd, though animated by the best and most generous feelings, was a trifle boisterous in its overflowing cordiality; the imperial party were sometimes nearly carried off their feet, so great was the pressure in the street, as they walked up to the Lord Warden Hotel, and the services of the police were called into active exercise. Napoleon was said to be much altered in appearance, his hair and moustache having become quite grey, but to look in good health. The ex-Emperor fixed his permanent residence with the Empress at Chislehurst.

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Pictures for Various Occurrences in 1871

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