Слике страница


[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

The Royal House of England lies beneath the pressure of a great calamity. The Throne is clad in mourning. A heavy affliction has once more befallen our beloved Sovereign; and under circumstances of a remarkable kind, which add to the trial peculiar intensity and weight. Her Majesty's second daughter, the Grand Duchess of Hesse-Darmstadt, our Princess Alice,"—who was held in the highest esteem by all classes of the people, alike for her simplicity of manners, her high intelligence, and her kindly affectionate qualities of mind and heart,-has been taken from her family and the kindred nations of Britain and Germany on the seventeenth anniversary of the day on which her lamented father, whom she nursed and tended with such untiring devotion, passed from this transitory scene. The date of the death of the Princess corresponded with that of the Prince Consort in all respects, the day of the week as well as of the month being identical. The blow, too, has fallen unexpectedly; the illness has been short; and the fact that her own assiduous attention to her sick children was the cause of the Princess's decease, that she met her death in ministering to their wants and reciprocating their affection, imparts to the melancholy issue an element of pathos which in every section of society is keenly and sympathetically felt. Ever self-denying and benevolent, ever solicitous for the well-being and happiness of others, and comparatively forgetful of her own, her demise was in keeping with the whole course and current of her life, and, in that sense, was its not unfitting termination. In the land of her adoption, not less than in the country of her birth, the Grand Duchess enjoyed the universal and affectionate regard of the people, who fully appreciated her thoughtful and womanly consideration for their welfare. Throughout our own country the deepest and truest synıpathy is manifested for our own bereaved and sorrow-stricken Queen. That feeling which has ever prompted her to sympathize with her people, of whatever class—that kindly regard she has always shown to all who were in distress and suffering—is now reciprocated to herself. The two Houses of Parliament, the municipalities, not only of our larger, but also of our smaller towns,-public bodies of every description, and all persons who, from their official or personal standing, have the privilege of direct communication with Her Majesty-vie with each other in expressing, not in the language of courtly adulation or ceremonious condolence, but in plain Saxon phraseology, and in the sincerity of honest English hearts, that genuine sympathy with their Sovereign in this hour of her overpowering grief, which we are convinced pervades the whole community, irrespective of party, class, or creed. It may well

The stroke which has fallen could not but re-open in the breast of Queen Victoria the floodgates of a former overwhelming sorrow, which even the lapse of time has not been able thoronghly and entirely to heal. Under such a loss, there is, of course, but one true Comforter-one only source of consolation; and that He who only comforteth to purpose, whose consolations are neither few nor small, may in this dark and cloudy day be present with the Queen, is the prayer of every Christian subject in the realm. Still, even in the deepest gloom, human sympathy is not without its value; and its expression, to some extent, mitigates every calamity, and alleviates even the bitter pang of bereavement such as this. The event is not withont its lessons for us all. It may well teach us the vanity of earthly distinctions, and the uncertain tenure by which we hold all the most coveted and choicest possessions which the world can give. Let but these lessons be duly laid to heart, and they will effectually check the vain desires and promptings of ambition; enabling us to realize that the only crown worth striving for is that crown of eternal life and glory which shall never fade away, and which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give to all them that wait for His appearing.

be so.

The Marquis of Lorne, the new Governor-General of Canada, and the Princess Louise, after an unusually rough and tempestuous passage across the stormy waves of the Atlantic, have been received with the utmost enthusiasm on its western shores. If their embarkation took place under auspicious circumstances, their debarkation, and subsequent progress through the Dominion whose affairs the Marquis is now called on to administer, have been more auspicious still. Everywhere that progress bas been marked by the warmest demonstrations of loyalty, and the most nnmistakable evidences of rejoicing; and there is no doubt that, in selecting as the successor to Lord Dufferin in this viceroyalty the Queen's son-in-law, the Government have taken a most politic and prudent course. Our Canadian brethren obviously regard the appointment of one so near to the Throne to be their Governor as an honour done unto themselves. The Princess Louise and her husband have been greatly gratified at the cordiality which marked their public reception, and the Queen has acknowledged the satisfaction it has afforded to herself. It was not long after the intelligence of the welcome thus accorded to one daughter that Her Majesty received the information of the illness with which another had been seized-an illness the fatal issue of which was not then foreseen. Thus in royal, as in humble life, do the lights and shadows, the joys and sorrows of existence, rapidly succeed each other. We trust that the administration of the Marquis may tend to develop the resources, promote the prosperity, and increase the loyalty of Canada ; thus cementing the ties which bind that dependency so firmly to the British Crown. The new Governor-General has been early trained in the paths of statesmanship ; he is the son of a nobleman whose philosophic habits of thinking, breadth of intellectual view, large-hearted sympathy, and devoted attachment to the cause of freedom, are guarantees that his son has been educated in principles the practical recognition of which, in a political position of such commanding influence, is well adapted to secure the attachment of a powerful and growing people, and to extend the popularity of the British Throne amongst its Transatlantic subjects.

Since our last issue there has been a brief session of Parliament. The special purposes for which it was convened have been thoroughly discussed; the great debates, from which so much was looked for, are now over; and the policy of the Government in relation to the Afghan War has, so far as the majority in both Houses was concerned, received a triumphant vindication. So much for the actual and practical result, which, of course, by all parties was clearly and unmistakably foreseen. Against this policy of the Cabinet, however, there has been no lack of earnest, energetic, and indignant protest ; and whilst on one side the expediency, and therefore the necessity and justice, of the war were strenuously urged, on the other it was denounced as uncalled for, needless, and aggressive-as subversive of sound principles of Indian policy, and undertaken in contravention of the opinions of

[ocr errors]

former Governors-General—as cowardly and cruel in its nature, and as an assertion merely of the power of the strongest. Never, perhaps, was a debate conducted with greater spirit, or the antagonistic ideas and principles which underlie all such discussions more fully and decidedly brought out. Mr. Whitbread's amendment on the report on the Address in reply to Her Majesty's Speech was, of course, a vote of censure on the Government. Although not originating with the leaders of the Opposition, it was supported by the Marquis of Hartington and the almost unbroken strength of the Liberal party, including also one or two Conservatives. It was, therefore, a fair trial of strength between the two great parties in the Commons' House, as was also, in relation to the Upper Chamber, the debate and division in the Lords, where Earl Granville joined issue with the Cabinet upon a question substantially the same. The majority in the Upper House of 165, and in the Lower of 101, is decisive of the agreement of the Legislature with the Executive Government, and endorses, for the time, the entire scope and objects in relation to the Eastern policy of Her Majesty's advisers. There were, however, two great debates; and as the first turned upon the right or wrong of the policy of Lord Beaconsfield—the justice or injustice of the war-so the second hinged upon a question scarcely less important, upon which country, England or India, should the expenses of the war be charged. The Ministry contended that, notwithstanding the generally depressed state of Indian finance, there was a surplus, for the present year, in the cash balances of the Indian exchequer, and that upon this the expenses of the Afghan expedition might, for convenience sake, be temporarily charged ; leaving it to the future to determine (when the cost and results of the war should be definitely known) what proportion of the total cost should be defrayed from Indian, and what from English finances. Mr. Fawcett's amendment, on the contrary, urged, in effect, that as the war was undertaken by the Imperial Government, and in pursuance of an" Imperial” policy, its cost should be borne by the British people, who had placed the present Ministry in power-more especially as the Indian people were already heavily taxed; the Indian surplus was but temporary, and that surplus had already been, by anticipation, set apart to constitute a Famine Prevention Fund. On this point the majority for the Government was 110, being nine more than the majority on the question of the war itself. The question is thus for the present disposed of; and when Parliament meets in February, other topics will probably take precedence and come for decision to the front. Of the two debates, the first was doubtless the most noteworthy—the most conspicuous for force and fire. It would doubtless have been more satisfactory to the peace-loving portion of the nation—to those who believe that wars of aggression are altogether unjustifiable, and that the sword of Great Britain should never be unsheathed save in a case of paramount necessity, or in a cause which is manifestly one of righteousness and truth—had the Government been able, on this point, to make out a clearer and a stronger case. They cannot but regret that Parliament was not earlier consulted on the matter; for although it is doubtless true that the Crown has the power, by the Constitution, to declare peace and levy war without first taking counsel with the people's representatives, it is also true that when this prerogative is pushed to its extreme limit, the control of the latter over the public expenditure becomes little more than nominal. Though Parliament should even condemn a war in toto, it is difficult, if not impossible, for it to refuse supplies, when once that war has been begun.

There has been much controversy of late on two points—both of indubitable importance—the one, the probability or otherwise of an early dissolution; the other, the question whether the administration of Lord Beaconsfield has impaired the

« ПретходнаНастави »