The Queen's Reign and Its Commemoration A literary and pictorial review of the period; the story of the Victorian transformation by Besant, Walter

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1837 ♔ 1897

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“Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty.” _As You Like It._

When Sydney Smith, towards the close of his life, considered the changes which had passed over the country within his recollection, he said that he wondered how the young men of his time had managed to preserve even a decent appearance of cheerfulness. Sydney Smith died in 1845, just at the beginning of those deeper and wider changes of which he suspected nothing; for, though he was a clear-headed man in many ways, he was no prophet--he saw the actual and the present, but was unable to feel the action of the invisible and potent forces which were creating a future to him terrible and almost impossible. Had he possessed the prophetic spirit, he would have been another Jeremiah for the destruction of the old forms of society; the levelling up and the levelling down destined to take place would have been pain and grief intolerable to him.

I have always maintained that the eighteenth century lingered on in its ways, customs, and modes of thought until the commencement of Queen Victoria’s reign, and I regard myself with a certain complacency as having been born on the fringe of that interesting period. I might also take pleasure in remembering that one who has lived through this reign has been an eyewitness, a bystander, perhaps in some minute degree an assistant, during a Revolution which has transformed this country completely from every point of view, not only in manners and customs, but also in thought, in ideas, in standards; in the way of regarding this world, and in the way of considering the world to come. I do not, however, take much pleasure in this retrospect, because the transition has taken place silently, without my knowledge; it escaped my notice while it went on: the world has changed before my eyes, and I have not regarded the phenomenon, being busily occupied over my own little individual interests. I have been, indeed, like one who sits in a garden thinking and weaving stories, nor heeding while the shadows shift slowly across the lawns, while the hand of the dial moves on from morning to afternoon. I have been like such a one, and, like him, I have awakened to find that the air, the light, the sky, the sunshine have all changed, and that the day is well-nigh done.

Do not expect in this volume a Life of Queen Victoria. You have her public life in the events of her reign: of her private life I will speak in the next chapter. But I can offer you no special, otherwise unattainable, information; there will be here no scandal of the Court; I have climbed no backstairs; I have peeped through no key-hole; I have perused no secret correspondence; I have, on this subject, nothing to tell you but what you know already.

Do not again look in these pages for a _résumé_ of public events. You may find them in any Annual or Encyclopædia. What I propose to show you is the transformation of the people by the continual pressure and influence of legislation and of events of which no one suspected the far-reaching action. The greatest importance of public events is often seen, after the lapse of years, in their effect upon the character of the people: this view of the case, this transforming force of any new measure, seldom considered by statesman or by philosopher, because neither one nor the other has the prophetic gift--if it could be adequately considered while that measure is under discussion--would be stronger than any possible persuasion or any arguments of expediency, logic, or abstract justice.

I propose, therefore, to present a picture of the various social _strata_ in 1837, and to show how the remarkable acts of British Legislation, such as Free Trade, cheap newspapers, improved communications, together with such accidents as the discovery of gold in Australia, and of diamonds at the Cape, have altogether, one with the other, so completely changed the mind and the habits of the ordinary Englishman that he would not, could he see him, recognise his own grandfather. And I hope that this sketch may prove not only useful in the manner already indicated, but also interesting and fresh to the general readers.

W. B.

EASTER SUNDAY, _18th April 1897_.





“The wise woman buildeth her house.”--_Book of Proverbs._

In 1837 the Queen mounted the throne. It was a time of misgiving and of discontent. The passing of the Reform Act of 1832 had not as yet produced the results expected of it; there were other and more sweeping reforms in the air: the misery and the oppression of the factory hands, the incredible cruelty practised on the children of the mill and the mine, the deep poverty of the agricultural districts, the distress of the trading classes, formed a gloomy portal to a reign which was destined to be so long and so glorious. Thus, in turning over the papers then circulated among the working-classes of the time, one observes a total absence of anything like loyalty to the Crown. It has vanished. A blind hatred has taken its place. What is loyalty to the Crown? To begin with, it is something more than an intelligent adhesion to the Constitution; it regards the Sovereign as personifying and representing the nation; it ascribes to the Sovereign, therefore, the highest virtues and qualities which the nation itself would present to the world. The King, among loyal people, is brave, honest, truthful, the chief support of the Constitution, the Fountain of Honour. To obey the King is to obey the country. To die for the King is to die for the country. The Army and the Navy are the King’s Army and Navy. The King grants commissions; the King is supposed to direct military operations. The King is the First Gentleman in his country. When one reads the words which used to be addressed to such a man as Charles the Second one has to remember these things. Charles the Second, unworthy as he was in his private life, was still the representative of the nation. Therefore, to ascribe to that unworthy person these virtues which were so notoriously lacking was no more than a recognition of the fact that he was King. Has, then, personal character, private honour, truth, principle, nothing to do with kingcraft? Formerly, nothing or next to nothing. Now, everything. Another George the Fourth would now be impossible. But he has been made impossible by the private character of his niece.

Consider a little further the question of loyalty. I say that in 1837 among the mass of the people, even among the better class, there was none. Indeed the loyalty of the better sort had suffered for more than a hundred years many grievous knocks and discouragements. The first two Georges, good and great in official language, were aliens; they spoke a foreign tongue; they saw little of the people; yet they were tolerated, and even popular in a way, because they steadfastly upheld the Constitution and the Protestant religion. The third George began well; he was a Prince always of high moral character, strong principle, and great sincerity. Since Edward the Confessor or Henry the Sixth there had been no Sovereign so virtuous. But his constant endeavours to extend the Royal Prerogative, his obstinate treatment of the American Provinces against the impassioned and reiterated entreaties of Chatham, Burke, and the City of London, his stubborn refusal to hear of Parliamentary Reform, his desire to govern by a few families, his long affliction and seclusion, destroyed most of the personal affection with which he began. His successor, the hero of a thousand caricatures, a discredited voluptuary, never commanded the least respect except in official addresses; nor did William the Fourth, old, without force or character, without dignity. Wherefore, in 1837, when the cry of “Our Young Queen” was raised, it met with little response from the great mass of the people.

[Illustration: THE DUKE OF KENT]

In its place there was an eager looking forward to Revolution and a Republic. There can be no doubt that in the thirties and the forties there were many who looked forward to a Republic as actually certain; that is to say, as certain as the next day’s sun. The Chartists numbered many strong Republicans in their body, though the Law of Treason forbade them to put forward the establishment of a Republic as one of their aims. There were newspapers, however, which spoke openly of a Republic as a matter of time only. The great European upheaval of 1848, save for the miserable _fiasco_ of the Chartist meeting, left this country undisturbed. Not a single Republican rising was attempted in Great Britain. Those living men who can remember thirty or forty years back, can very well recall the Republican ideas which were floating about in men’s minds. Where are those ideas now? They are gone; they exist no longer, save, perhaps, among a very small class. I do not know even if they have an organ of their own. The reason is, that as the Chartist movement--the agitation for Reform--was due mainly to the widespread distress and the discontent of the country, so, when the distress vanished, the desire for change vanished also.

[Illustration: THE DUCHESS OF KENT]

In this account of transformation the return to loyalty must be noted first. It is not only loyalty to the Queen herself, though that is universal, but to the Crown. There is a general feeling that the Leader of the Nation--not the Imperator, Dictator, or Emperor, but a nominal Leader, such as our own, one under whose presidency the Government is carried on, who is not, however, the Government--is more conveniently the heir of a certain family rather than a person elected by the country at large at regular intervals. The United States think differently. This, however, is what seems to us. We do not want a great popular election convulsing the country once every four years with a desperate party struggle; we have already quite as many elections as we want; we are quite satisfied if our President succeeds when his time comes, gives his name to the events of his reign, and continues in the Presidential chair for life. We ask of him only to make himself as good a figure-head as he can; we expect him to observe his coronation oath; and we beg him, if he wishes to stay where he is, not on any account to intrigue or scheme for the extension of the Royal Prerogative.

On the other hand, we willingly agree to attribute to a Sovereign all the glories of the reign; as if he himself commanded the armies and the fleets; as if he himself enlarged Science and Learning and Philosophy; as if he himself were a leader in Literature, Science, and Art. This is because the Sovereign is the representative of the Nation. In the same way the disasters and miseries of the reign must also be placed to his account, as if he himself were the author and the cause of everything. Thus by far the greater part of the distress and discontent which prevailed during the first years of the Reign (1837–48) was attributed in the minds of the people as due to the Sovereign and the monarchical forms of Government.

With the gradual return of loyalty gradually grew quieter the old clamours for the abolition of the House of Lords. I will show you some other reasons why this clamour ceased. First of all, in times of prosperity political changes are never demanded. A revolution presupposes a time of want, distress, or humiliation. We have enjoyed a time of general prosperity for many years.

I believe that Americans find it hard to understand the continued existence of our Upper House. Well, but something may be said for that. Thus, the House of Lords contains about 650 possible members; of these about thirty, or even less, and those including the Law Lords, do the whole work of the House. These thirty are in a sense representatives of the whole number, not regularly elected, but allowed to be the representatives. It is quite conceivable--even by the strongest advocate of popular election--that a body of 650 gentlemen, all of the best possible education, nearly all advanced in years, all independent in their circumstances, all wealthy, with no private interests to advance, unconnected with commercial enterprise, with no companies to support, no schemes of money-making in the background, might elect out of their own body a Second Chamber of much greater weight and moral authority than any body elected by the multitude. In such a House, one would argue, there is no place for bribery, jobbery, or corruption. In fact, there are none of these things.




But, it is objected, a caste is created, and there should be no such thing as a caste. Perhaps not; if we were to start anew, we would have none. Australia has none, nor New Zealand; in our case, however, the caste is two thousand years old and more. It is venerable by reason of its age; it would be extremely difficult to remove it; moreover, it is a caste rendered innocuous by the simple provision that the younger sons do not belong to it; none but the Head has any power or authority by reason of belonging to it; it is a caste, not of so many families, but of so many men. Moreover, English people like old institutions; this House of Peers, therefore, is not only kept on, but is rendered popular by the continual infusion of new blood--the continual election to the House of new men with no family connection or influence. Among the recently made Peers there are successful men of business: engineers, physicians, manufacturers. Tennyson, Lister, Leighton, Kelvin, show that a peerage is at last open to literature, science, and law.

Again, it is objected that the House of Lords can oppose a popular measure. So can every Upper House. But the Peers, though they often send back measures amended, never refuse to assent to measures which are understood to be desired by the mass of the people.

Again, any profligate may sit in the House. This is an objection which is met by the simple fact that a Peer of well-known bad character would not dare to present himself in the House of Lords. But the Peers represent Norman blood and feudal ideas. Nothing of the kind. Most of the Lords are of quite recent creation, and are sprung from families obscure and even humble. Here is an instance. I was once conversing with a bricklayer, an elderly man, who had formerly been a prize-fighter. He began to talk of a certain noble family. “My father,” he said, “used to go poaching with his grandfather. They were both employed on the same farm. His grandfather went into the town of ---- and set up a shop for game--hares and rabbits and such--which my father poached for him till he got took and went to prison.” The sequel is obvious. The man who started the shop and made the other man do the work and undergo the risk for him, got on; his son started life in a higher plane, showed abilities, grew rich, and was eventually created the first Peer of his family. This is perhaps an extreme case; but the point is that Englishmen are constantly working their way to the front by sheer ability and without any family influence whatever; that when they are well to the front they receive Peerages; that the whole family is thereby raised in the social scale; and that every Peer represents a network of cousins, nephews, and relations, who rejoice in his rank because it lends them too a certain social superiority.


One of the early Residences of the Queen]

[Illustration: Victoria

Kensington Palace

1826 December]

[Illustration: PRINCESS VICTORIA, AGE 6]


For these and other reasons, the outcry against the House of Lords has ceased. It will perhaps revive again, but in some milder form; for the old assertion of rank, the former haughtiness of the aristocrat, has been greatly mitigated: in the last century it was complained at Bath that noble Lords would not even enter the society of plain gentlemen; it is now understood that whatever may be a man’s rank, he cannot be any more than a gentleman. Rank gives him precedence: a seat in the House of Lords, but no more; this is all he can claim.

A third cry, which used to be loud and general, but is now greatly reduced in volume, is the disestablishment of the Church of England. A large and powerful society has been working for this end for many years. Members have been sent up to the House, pledged to bring about these results. Yet the Church remains. When the Irish Church was disestablished, nearly thirty years ago, every one said that the English Church would go next. What excellent prophets we are. How many similar predictions do I remember! The Irish Church was disestablished because it was not the Church of the people, but of a small section. The English Church remains, because it is the Church of the majority, and is without doubt becoming more so every year. The Churches are crammed with people--of the better sort: the working-man, though as a rule he does not go to Church, has learned during the last sixty years to regard the Establishment with friendliness and respect, if not with gratitude and affection.

[Illustration: KENSINGTON PALACE IN 1819]

We see in this country at the present day a loyalty to the Crown, to equal which we must go back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth; and for the same principal reasons, a Sovereign personally respected and beloved, a period of marvellous expansive prosperity and advancement of every kind. We see the Republican form of Government no longer advocated; the House of Lords no longer attacked; the old cry for the disestablishment of the Church growing daily weaker; the See of Canterbury extending everywhere its authority, and promising to become the Rome of the Episcopal Church.

I call attention to another point. Everybody knows that a great part of the history of this country consists of the long and never-ending struggles of the King to extend his prerogative, and of the people to maintain their rights. To observe that the reign of Queen Victoria presents not one single instance of a desire on the Queen’s part to extend her powers--those powers are much less than those of the President of the United States--she has been contented with them. Again, she has welcomed every act of reform; she has always shown a perfect trust in the whole people; she has clung to no small clique of families; she has admitted no reservation of aristocratic caste; she has willingly received as her ministers such men as Gladstone, Disraeli, John Morley, James Bryce, and others who have no pretensions whatever to aristocratic descent; she has been, in a word, entirely loyal to the Constitution: she has lived, not for herself, but for the Empire.

It is impossible here to avoid saying--what every one else writing on this subject has already said--something about the extent and population of the British Empire. Under the Union Jack at this moment there lie the British Islands, Egypt, India, Burmah, a part of Borneo, Australia, New Zealand, the Dominion of Canada, the West Indies, South, East, and West Africa, with innumerable islands scattered over the face of the whole globe. A great deal of this territory has been acquired since the year 1837: at that time vast tracts of it were worthless deserts, for which no one ventured to predict a future. Australia contained a few thousand whites; New Zealand, not half a dozen; South Africa was the Cape and nothing more; Canada contained only the two divisions; there was no emigration--there was no thought of emigration. The exports and imports of the country, though they were thought large at the time, were only worth a hundred millions sterling, against four hundred millions at the present day. The national debt in 1837 amounted to 30 per cent of the wealth of the whole country: at present it is 7¼ per cent on that wealth. In 1837 there were 28,000 merchant ships belonging to Great Britain and her colonies: at present there are about the same number, but with four times the tonnage. And so on with tables of figures which show the advance made by the country in every branch of industry and enterprise. Above all things, we may look round and observe that, just as on the site of Fort Dearborn of 1837 now stands the splendid city of Chicago of 1897, so, where there was nothing in 1837 but wild plain and lonely hill, there now stand crowded and busy cities like Melbourne and Sydney: there now lie bathed in the golden sunlight populous colonies like Manitoba and British Columbia: there now look upward in their youth of hope nations like New Zealand. Great Britain in sixty years has become the mother of four nations. Yet a little while, a few years, and these nations--federated Canada, federated Australia, federated South Africa, United New Zealand--will be four independent nations, proud, strong, eager to meet whatever fortune may send them, with the prayers and the blessings of the little Island whence they sprang.

[Illustration: KENSINGTON PALACE IN 1897]

It remains to be seen what reception they will get from the United States; whether there will be only five independent Anglo-Saxon countries allied with each other and the mother country by bonds never to be broken, while the sixth still holds aloof; or whether the five shall become six, all independent, neither one before nor after the others, and so the unity of the race be preserved, and its destiny as the leader of the world be assured.

As for the public and the private life of the Queen I have told you that I know no more than you yourselves. That she ascended the throne, a young girl of eighteen; that she married happily; that she has been blessed with many children; that she has lost her husband and two of her children, and more than two of her grandchildren, you know already. Despite the fierce light that beats upon the throne, there is nothing--absolutely nothing--in her long occupation of that seat which has to be concealed or defended. No prince has ever occupied a throne with greater loyalty to his people’s liberties; nay, those liberties have increased and broadened without a word from the Queen to stay their advance. Religious disabilities have vanished: the Catholic, the Dissenter, the Jew, the Atheist are on the same level with the Anglican; the Franchise has widened, without a sign of opposition from the Queen. It may be said that she has been admirably advised. Perhaps you will acknowledge, however, that it is the first characteristic of a noble mind that it can understand, and will listen to, advice.

Foreigners cannot, perhaps, fully understand the depth and the reality of that loyalty of which I have spoken--it is a personal as well as constitutional loyalty--they can, however, understand, and they will acknowledge, that there has never lived upon the earth a woman who in her lifetime has created, and has inspired, and has possessed so much affection, respect, and confidence from all parts of the world.

Of the good woman what sayeth the wise King Lemuel--who wrote too little--from the oracle which his mother taught him?

She spreadeth out her hand to the poor; Yea, she reacheth forth her hand to the needy. Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she laugheth at the time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom, And the law of kindness is on her tongue. Her children rise up and call her blessed: A woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.





“Bless thee, Bottom! bless thee! thou art translated.”--_Midsummer Night’s Dream._

“Above all things, gentlemen,” says Goldsmith’s prisoner for debt, “let us guard our liberties.”

What were the liberties of the people? They were very real; but they did not open the debtor’s prison; nor did they include representation. You will hardly believe that the old condition of things should have lasted so long.

Before the Reform Act of 1832 the only persons who had votes at elections were freeholders; in some boroughs the electors were the Mayor and Corporation; some were “pocket” boroughs, in which the territorial magnate of the neighbourhood nominated the Member; in some there were only two or three electors, who openly put up the seat to the highest bidder. The House of Commons was a body made up almost entirely of younger sons or cousins of the Lords, who voted as they were ordered; many of the members held places under Government--they voted as they were told; many of the members were bribed on every important occasion. On the declaration of the American War of Independence it was in such a House Mr. Burke vainly thundered and protested that taxation in a free country could only go with representation. Alas! the liberties of the country had no other guard than the House of Commons; and the House betrayed the country. It took sixty years of almost continual struggle to get the Reform Act of 1832; yet in a country of twenty millions no more than 440,000 had votes. There are now six million voters; that is to say, the suffrage is practically universal. There are people still outside the wide limits of the franchise, but they are, as a class, so poor, so held down by the hourly necessities of finding food, that they can hardly be considered as suffering any loss of dignity by having no votes. For my own part, I do not think that the suffrage should be a matter of right, nor should it depend upon income or rent; I think that a man before he is allowed to vote should show that he possesses some knowledge of the history of his country and its constitution. I do not expect any one to agree with me, but that is my opinion.

[Illustration: PRINCESS VICTORIA, AGE 8]

Consider, next, the changes in the conduct of elections. Formerly the election was open and public: it occupied several weeks; during the whole time the town was filled with violence, clamour, drunkenness, and bribery; the elector had to fight his way to the hustings; the mob, which took sides with impartial ferocity, fought each other and hustled the electors. Since it was proclaimed how every man voted, electors had to vote against their conscience for the sake of their private interests--for instance, in the great Westminster election of 1784 the King let his tradesmen understand clearly how he expected them to vote; a contested election cost many thousands; no one could sit in the House who had not an estate worth £300 a year at least; Roman Catholics, Dissenters, and Jews were not permitted to become Members of Parliament.

On the other hand, an election of the present day is conducted with perfect order. There is no shouting; there is no fighting; at eight o’clock in the morning an office is thrown open; a policeman stands outside to direct the voters; almost everybody in the electoral district records his vote. He receives a paper with the names of the candidates upon it; he marks the name for which he votes, folds the paper, and gives it to a clerk, who in his presence drops the paper into a box. At the close of the day the voting papers are opened and counted. The election is over. There has been no bribery, nobody knows how any man has voted, and the whole business is complete in one day.

In changing the franchise and the mode of election we have changed the House of Commons itself. It represents the people--not one class only, but the whole people. There are in it younger sons of Lords; they no longer come in as nominees, but on their own merits; there are no pocket boroughs; there is no property qualification, some of the Members are lawyers, some literary men, some tradesmen, some working-men; all the nation is represented in that assembly. The House is no longer the rich man’s club as it used to be, but it represents the nation; it is no longer a fortress of prejudice and conservatism, but it represents the nation. And consider the vast accession of dignity and self-respect to the working-classes when they realise that the government of the country is really and actually in their own hands, and that they can bring in their own Members of Parliament without coercion and without fear.


The next change is in education. Sixty years ago the mass of the country was uneducated. Millions could neither read nor write; millions could read a little and could not write at all. The whole country is now educated--in every rural village, in every crowded city street, there is a school, and the children are compelled to come in. In addition to the schools there are village libraries, institutions with lending libraries, public libraries where the best literature of the past and the present is freely offered to the people. They can carry home the books, they can have as many books as they are able to read. We are creating new readers by the million. Are we, it is often asked, creating also a whole nation of students? Hardly. Education does not create students, who are born, not made. Besides, we do not want to become a nation of students. The hard work of the world is not done by students or philosophers. Education, however, teaches us something of our own ignorance, something of the source of information, something of humility. Above all, education falling on a kindly soul gives the lad a new recreation for his evenings: instead of horse-play along the streets, instead of drinking at a bar, instead of “keeping company” with a girl every evening, he reads. He does not read for instruction, he pursues no course of study, he reads just for recreation; but such is the character of the reading found for him that he imbibes a great amount of information, learns manners, and acquires a higher standard of morals. The circulation of the penny weeklies proves that he reads; there are a hundred of them at least; their circulation is enormous, some of them attaining to half a million. If we buy some and look at them we find them “scrappy”; they are not vicious, or immoral, or seditious, they are the exact opposites of these; but they are scrappy; it would seem as if their readers, which is probably the fact, are incapable of a sustained argument, and like to be stimulated by short stories of adventure, odds and ends of history, and so forth. Think, however, of the change from a nation which was in great part illiterate in 1837 to a nation which knows something of history and something of geography, and which now reads with avidity. Hardly a cottager now but takes in his weekly newspaper. Lloyd’s _Weekly News_ is, I believe, the most widely circulated of them. It claims more than a million readers; it owns a great pine-forest in Norway to supply its paper, and it is a most respectable paper, popular and full of news, taking one side strongly, but never scurrilous. If you want to understand the English rustic of the day, send for the last number of Lloyd’s and read it through. I am sure that after reading this journal your appreciation of the British rustic will be distinctly raised. And you will own that he is changed indeed.


Consider, next, the widening of the world. I think that it is the tendency of those who live in a small country to make it smaller by their own seclusion. The rustic, for instance, formerly knew nothing of the world but his farm and his village and the nearest market town, whither he carried produce or drove the pigs on market day. This town--which once a week was enlivened by the crowd attending the market; the farmers at the Corn Exchange or the cattle-sheds; the cries of the people at the stalls; the farmers’ ordinary at the principal inn--was, to the rustic, a metropolis, a centre of gaiety. There came rumours, it is true, of an outer world. Somewhere or other there was a king; a recruiting-sergeant carried off a young man here and there; there were recollections of the great wars when wheat went up to 103s. a quarter, when farmers became squires, and squires became peers, but the rustic remained where he was. The village was so full that wages ran down, even while wheat went up; in Devonshire, a man of eighty years assures me that the wages of the agricultural labourer in his youth were 7s. a week, with a two or four roomed cottage, and a pound or two to be made at harvest time. Such a man, with his family, never tasted meat all his life, except sometimes a piece of fat pork. His children lived chiefly on oat-cake. The man’s drink was rough harsh cider. It seems incredible how strong men, of splendid physique, could have been made out of such materials.



This man’s position is now so far improved that he receives about twenty shillings a week, with harvest allowances; that he has an allotment on which he grows his vegetables; that he keeps poultry and a pig; that he eats meat of some kind every day; that his wife and children go warmly clad.


What has caused this change? The widening of the world. How the world was first discovered by the English rustic to be so wide and so empty, I do not know. It was during the twenty years between 1815 and 1835 that the discovery began; at first it spread very slowly; the rustic heard of it at the market town; he met with a sailor who talked about the splendid chances beyond the seas; he heard letters read from settlers in Canada and Australia; here and there one, greatly daring, left the village, and was considered as good as dead till letters arrived entreating all--father, mother, brothers, and sisters--to leave their home and join him. At last they began to go, and the tide of immigration set in that has never since stopped or slackened. In the year 1815 the emigration from this country amounted to no more than 2000; in 1825 it was 25,000; in 1850 it was nearly 300,000. From 1815 to 1896 I do not think that the emigrants from these shores have amounted to less than 10,000,000; of these more than one-half have gone to the United States. These emigrants do not, for the first generation at least, forget their native land and the kin they have left behind them. Imagine, then, the difference between a village closed absolutely to the outer world, into which there penetrates no voice, no rumour, no report from without, and a village where every family has got sons and daughters in the lands across the sea.

The world has been widened for us by the rise of the other nations of our race. It has also been widened by the railway and by the cheap post. Small as is our island compared with the great continent of America, there was formerly no knowledge of any part of it outside the native place; at the present moment the people can get about all over the country--to the seaside, to London, to the Lakes, to Wales; everywhere there are excursion trains and cheap tickets; the children learn by their annual treats to look out every year for new and interesting places; to the people the excursion is an event which excites and stimulates them all. You may see them by thousands in the ruins of an old abbey, trying to reconstruct the past splendours; or among the ruins of a Norman Castle; or in the gardens and galleries of some great house which is thrown open to them; or by the seashore, rowing, sailing, bathing; or in some park, where the children dance and sing and try to persuade the deer to let them come near. In one small town of Lancashire, a town of factories, the people spend £30,000 a year on their excursions; they descend upon the Lincolnshire watering-places, which are small and ill-provided, and they eat up the town and the farms all round; they invade the hotels of Ambleside and Grasmere, and eat up all that therein is; they reduce the Isle of Man to famine; they leave the coast of Northumberland empty and cleared out, with an emptiness like that caused by the locust. Such is the effect of the world’s widening.


_Painting by Sir George Hayter_



_Painting by C. R. Leslie, R.A._


Consider next the cheap post. The people have begun to write to each other. Formerly there was little or no communication by letter. It is true that a cheap and easy way was practised, by means of which a young man could communicate to his friends the simple fact of his safety. It was to address a letter to his mother; if she took that letter in it would cost her eightpence at least, but she knew there was nothing written within, therefore she refused to take the letter, which was undelivered, but she knew from the address outside that her son was safe. Now, however, letters pass freely into the village; they convey information, as to work and pay, that the newspapers have not yet learned to furnish; wherever workmen are wanted, thither sets in a stream in search of work. Some years ago a mischievous fund was raised, called the Lord Mayor’s Fund, for the unemployed. A rumour of this fund ran through the whole length and breadth of the land; all the unemployed came up to London from all parts to share in the money so raised; it was distributed chiefly in soup tickets; the men took the tickets, sold them, and drank the contents. The point, however, to notice is that the people, before the proposed fund was started, knew all about it, and had begun to come up in order to claim their share.

I have spoken of the rise in wages. To this I will return presently. Meantime observe that with the rise of wages there has also arrived an extraordinary cheapness in food. The price of wheat, between the years 1786 and 1837 was never lower than 39s. a quarter, and rose to 106s., 113s., 119s., and even 126s. a quarter. It was over 70s. a quarter for seventeen years of that time, and over 50s. for forty years; it is now about 20s. With the price of grain, other things have fallen; tea, which sixty years ago was five shillings a pound, can now be had for eighteenpence; sugar, of which the commonest kind formerly cost ninepence a pound, is now about twopence; cheese, butter, rice, and other products are now imported, and are sold at a half of their former price; meat comes over from New Zealand, frozen, in unknown quantities; clothing is half the price it was; the working-man’s wages, therefore, which have more than doubled, represent a much greater purchasing power. He stands, therefore, upon a higher level of comfort. Another thing--a very important thing--has been done for the rustic. By an Act passed quite recently village councils--parish councils--have been founded. To these councils, elected by the working-classes from themselves, are entrusted the governing of the parish: the lighting, paving, cleaning of the streets, the order and police, and all matters belonging to the daily life of the place. On these councils the squire and the parson may sit, if they are elected; but they have no more power than the others.

So far, it is reported that without the presence of the squire or parson the new councillors flounder. This, however, was to be expected.


_Painting by Sir G. Hayter_


In the year 1837 any person who owed another any sum of money, however small, was liable to be arrested for debt, and if he would not pay he could be thrown into prison and kept there till he did pay. Thousands of unfortunate debtors were kept in prison for the whole of their lives on account of some miserable debt which, if they had been out of prison, they could have paid off in a short time. There was a devilish malignity about the law which enabled an attorney to roll up a bill of costs (which the prisoner had to pay), on this pretence and that, like a snowball increasing as it rolled; the warders of the prison demanded fees and “garnish,” in default of which the prisoner was turned into the “poor side,” where the privations and misery and enforced idleness were terrible. If a working-man got into prison, as was always happening, there was no hope for him: the costs went mounting up, he could do no work, he must sit down and starve. Outside the prison, what became of his wife and children? In the year ending 5th January 1830, 7114 persons were sent to the prisons of London for debt; in 1840 the number of prisoners for debt were 1732 in England; in Ireland, under 1000; in Scotland, under 100. By the Act of 1861 imprisonment for debt was forbidden, except in case of debt fraudulently contracted; in 1887, by the Bankruptcy Act imprisonment for debt was virtually abolished altogether. A terror was removed from life when the walls of the Fleet and the Queen’s Bench were taken down and the gates thrown open. The recovery of small debts is now entrusted to the County Court, where the Judge makes an order that so much should be paid weekly or monthly. If the debtor breaks that order, he is liable to imprisonment for contempt of Court.

The English working-man has been accused of servility. Such a charge could never be brought against the working-man of London, or of the North; that servility existed in some of the agricultural districts was undoubtedly true. How should it be otherwise when a man’s daily bread, his work, his home, his wage, depended wholly on one man--the squire? His village was his prison; he could go nowhere else; there was no work for him out of his village; the squire was his “overlord,” to use the old phrase; he was not legally, yet he was in reality, _ascriptus glebæ_, bound to the soil; he looked for help in sickness and in trouble to the great house whose ladies looked after the village, helping, feeding, clothing, and admonishing. The man was like a child in leading-strings, or at best like a schoolboy under rule and discipline. With the cause of that servility, the fact itself is vanishing.

The depression in agriculture seems also, on the whole, turning out favourably for the agricultural labourer; the farms are worked more economically and want fewer hands; but the superfluous hands have left the village--there are now no more than are wanted day by day; if an odd piece of work turns up it is difficult to find a man to do it. The men are therefore valued in proportion to their paucity of numbers; their wages, for the same reason, are going up; they live more comfortably, they have more money to spend, they are more independent.


_Painting by Sir George Hayter_


The old laws forbidding workmen from making combinations or “Covins” for the advancement of wages were passed in the fourteenth century, and remained in force until the year 1825, when they were at last repealed. You think, then, that nothing remained for the workpeople but to form as many combinations as they pleased. You are quite wrong. There was still the right of holding public meeting. Until that was acquired--it was only fully granted a few years ago--the repeal of the old law was practically valueless. The right of forming trades unions has been acquired entirely during the present reign. Now the trades union is not popular; it has been ruthlessly enforced; the treatment of blacklegs has been cruel; yet no one can deny that the position of the working-man has been enormously improved, his independence advanced, his wages increased, by the union. The Agricultural Union has not done so much: partly because the countryman is difficult to manage; partly because it would appear that he wants another kind of union. Thus the skilled agriculturalist is a man who knows a great deal, he cannot be replaced except by one like himself; the best chance, therefore, is to stimulate emigration and keep down his own numbers.


_Painting by Sir David Wilkie_


I have not mentioned among the forces making for advance the abolition of flogging. As a matter of fact flogging is not abolished, but it is only inflicted upon civilians as a punishment for robbery with violence. About thirty-five years ago there was a common form of robbery called “garrotting,” in which violence and brutality were commonly exhibited. By the advice of the judges the garrotter, on conviction, was flogged. It is maintained that the flogging practically stopped the garrotting. However that may be, there is no doubt that the ruffian who suffers that punishment dislikes it extremely. But this punishment did not affect the respectable classes. In the Army and the Navy, on the other hand, where flogging was practised continually, it did affect them; and it seems wonderful that, in the face of the prejudice against the service which these punishments created, we should have been able to maintain an Army at all. It is, however, just to state that flogging in the Army had been enormously reduced: in 1869 there were only 21 soldiers flogged out of our whole army of 150,000, while an able seaman of the first class could not be flogged at all; and in the same year, in the whole of the navy of 80,000 men only 8 were flogged. By the Army Discipline Act of 1879 flogging was finally abolished. But, I repeat, I do not consider this reform as affecting materially the mind of the English working-man.

Now read through this long list of reforms, every one of them exercising steady, continual, irresistible influence upon the individual. What changes do you expect to find in him?


He has become, in fact, more independent, more responsible; he knows so much more that he feels his own ignorance; he is not so easily led by a demagogue; it is not so easy to inflame his passions; he thinks and asks questions; he is better fed, better clothed; he walks more upright; he is no longer a machine; he understands the power of combination; he sits at the table of his parish council on equal terms with the squire and the vicar; he no longer regards his native village as the place to which he is bound; he has friends in various parts of the world; they come home from time to time and they tell him of these countries--Republics all, except in name--where there are no squires and no landlords; and he asks himself whether it is better to stay on in the old place, or to try for a bigger thing beyond the seas.

Changed as he is, and certain to change yet more and more in the immediate future, do not forget that the English working-man, even of the town, feels a great shrinking about leaving the old home. In a village this seems natural; the place is calm and lovely, the ancient church with its gray tower standing in the churchyard, where the rooks and pigeons and blackbirds keep up a continual chorus; the village green, the village inn, the gabled cottages, the gates that lead to the Hall, the fields and hedges, the stream, and the hills, and the hanging woods--these things enter into the very heart and soul of the Englishman; he loves them all, he cannot choose but love them, though he would not know how to express his affection; in the churchyard he knows the mounds that belong to his own people; in the tavern he sits among his cronies on the polished settle beside the fire, his mug before him, his pipe in his mouth. In his heart he wants no other life. These things he could not find in America or Australia or New Zealand. Yet he is changed, and if you wait for twenty years you will no longer recognise him for what he was. He is getting a touch from America, a thought from Australia, a custom from New Zealand; he will be a citizen of the world, and, if I read the signs aright, he will become before another generation the owner and the master of agricultural England.


_Painting by Sir George Hayter_


Let us leave the village and turn to the town.

There are two books in our literature which tell of English factory life in the early part of this century. One of these is Disraeli’s _Sybil_; the other is Mrs. Trollope’s _Michael Armstrong_. I fear that these two books are not read so much as they should be; partly, perhaps, because we do not love to dwell too much on the shameful side of history. The condition of the working-man before the Victorian era is indeed a very shameful part of history. The record of the factory and the mine is very black. Let me show you something of what it was. I tell you beforehand, that the story proves that power over his fellow-men must never be entrusted to any man; for he will abuse that power--he will become an oppressor and a tyrant.

He began this oppression with the children. He has a mill, a factory, a mine; in which he made the children work. He worked them so cruelly; he gave them such long hours, such poor food, such wretched clothing, that he lowered the vitality of these unfortunate children so that an epidemic broke out among them; it carried off thousands. This frightened the owner of these children, because, if they all died, what would become of his mill?

Then the House of Commons interfered--very reluctantly--because to stand between the master and his man was felt to be a dangerous innovation. It interfered, however, and passed a law which forbade children under nine to be employed in a factory, and limited their hours to twelve, exclusive of an hour and a half for rest and food; so that by this merciful Act a little girl of ten might be, and actually was, made to work from six in the morning till half-past seven at night. Can one conceive a readier method of destroying strength, youth, self-respect, everything? But the injured millowner got over this law. He was not forced to make the children work continuously. He therefore made the children work in relays, so that they had half the night as well as half the day to work in. This went on for thirty years before the nation was moved by the injustice and cruelty of the thing. An Act was passed that no children should work between 8.30 P.M. and 5.30 A.M.; that children under thirteen should not work more than 48 hours a week or eight hours a day; and that those under eighteen should not work more than 68 hours a week or 11⅓ hours a day. As I told you, the man who had the power exercised it cruelly, heartlessly, ruthlessly, for the conversion of his people into slaves.


_Paintings by Winterhalter_


Then, because the Act spoke of the factory or the mill, and not of the mine, they took the little children and dropped them into the coal-pit. When the boy or the girl was six years of age--six! think of it--they took the little thing and put it in a dark passage, underground, with instructions to open and shut a door in order to let the trucks come and go. All day long--for twelve hours--that innocent infant was kept in the dark opening and shutting the doors. They worked from four in the morning till four in the evening; when they were taken up they were stupid, and cared for nothing but to sleep. When they grew older they pushed the trucks with their heads; when they grew older still the lads became hewers of coal: the girls--now women--continued to push the trucks with their heads or to drag them, clad in nothing but a pair of short trousers. This was done in a Christian country which boasted of having abolished slavery. Observe that there was no chance for these children ever to learn anything, ever to do anything, except to continue all their lives in the coal-pit; they were doomed to brutish ignorance, to unremitting toil, without holidays, except on Sunday--day after day, week after week, year after year, till they could push the truck no longer, till the pick fell from their hands.

The chimney-sweep’s case was almost as bad as the miner’s. He too was taken at a very early age, and his duty was to climb the chimney, sweeping it as he went up. It is not a pleasant thing to climb a chimney choked with soot; it abraded hands, elbows, and knees: sometimes the little wretch could get no higher; if he failed he was beaten unmercifully. There was a curious prejudice against sweeping with a brush: the child was allowed to go unwashed, though the neglect of cleanliness was certain to bring on a dreadful disease. It was not till four years after the Queen began her reign that an Act was passed protecting the children and substituting the brush for the human body.



This was the treatment of children in mill, in mine, in town. There were other lines and branches of cruelty because children are helpless. But these examples will suffice.

Let us leave the children and turn to the men. The change for the better began, I believe, with the ideas of the French Revolution, at first eagerly caught by the English working people: it was continued by the long agitation for the Reform Act of 1832 and the fierce resistance of the Duke of Wellington and the Bishops: these ideas and this agitation taught the people how to combine and act together. They also taught the people to hate a Government in which they had no share or part or lot. A great many--though still the minority--could now read; the papers they read were bitterly hostile to the ruling powers. As I have already pointed out, there was no loyalty at all among the working-men of the Thirties; they did not pretend any. Their papers were revolutionary; the things they said of the Queen and the Prince Consort were revolting; the aristocracy, according to them, were open and shameless; the clergy were pampered hypocrites. What has happened since then? The people have been admitted to their share in the Government; they can do what they like: if they choose they can alter the Constitution. Do they choose? Not at all; they have become loyal; they have become, comparatively, conservative.



The recreations of the working-man, apart from the tavern, were boxing and dog-fighting. Single-stick, wrestling, quarter-staff, cock-fighting, had to a great extent gone out. Boxing remained, every man knew how to handle his fists: you may remember that in _Tom Brown at Oxford_, there is a serious discussion on the knotty question whether a gentleman can, or cannot, always lick a cad. Dear me, this kind of talk is now so old-world. However, a man was always supposed to be ready to strip and engage--gentleman or cad. Dickens’s stories contain many instances of the rough-and-ready “turn up.” The change is a gain from one point of view; it is a loss, from another, that the noble art of self-defence has fallen out of practice; it is, further, a gain as well as a loss, that it shows signs of returning to favour.

There are still fairs left. Several fairs were held in the neighbourhood of London. Bartholomew’s, degenerated into a scene of drunkenness and disorder, still continued. Greenwich Fair continued, and Deptford Fair; there was also a fair at Barnet; but the fairs had practically gone out of the life of the country. It was a mark of the times that the working-classes no longer delighted in the noise and the ribaldry that disgraced the later years of the London fairs.

I have spoken of education in the rural districts. Long before the young rustic could learn to read, the townsmen had the chance of some education. There were many charity schools: there were the schools of the National Society and of the British and Foreign Society: there were also the Sunday Schools.

Criminal procedure does not, perhaps, affect the average civilian. At the same time one learns that before 1836 it was actually forbidden that a prisoner should defend himself before the jury by counsel. Imagine, if you can, a timid, shrinking girl, called upon to plead for her life in open court after being maddened by jargon which she did not understand and formalities which only filled her with bewilderment. It is said that the judges themselves repaired this evil: it is quite possible. Our judges have always been superior to the laws they have had to administer; but then the prisoner was at the mercy of the judge; he might, or he might not, find a remedy for the speechlessness and the incapacity of the prisoner.

If you take up a bundle of old newspapers you will find that every one of them has got a red stamp upon it. This was the tax upon newspapers. It was a penny a copy in 1760; in 1815 it was actually fourpence a copy; in 1836 it was reduced to a penny; in 1855 it was totally abolished. There was, in addition, a tax on paper, which was repealed in 1861. It is wonderful how newspapers continued to exist at all with an impost so crushing: it is still more wonderful how working-men’s papers could hold their own. In fact, their circulation was very small; they were weekly, not daily; they were taken in at taverns where the men could see them, not by the men themselves. It is not one of the least reforms of this reign which has placed in the hands of everybody a cheap newspaper, full, large, with copious intelligence, and educated commentary.

[Illustration: QUEEN’S STATE COACH]

The outcome of the national discontent was the organisation called Chartism. Look at the working-man of the present day. He has received an education sound and thorough, up to a certain point, at the Board School; he has had the chance of continuing his education after leaving school at evening classes. He has also had the chance of joining a Polytechnic, which is a kind of technical University, teaching everything; and a kind of public school, in which athletics of all kinds are practised and encouraged. There are a great many thousand lads in the Polytechnics, and they are as fine young fellows as one can desire to see. They are skilled in technical work; they are taught by the best men in their own subjects; they do not drink or frequent taverns; they do not loaf about the streets. I do not pretend that these lads are representatives of their own class; I admit that they are the flower of the flock. The working-man has now free libraries and reading-rooms, where he can sit and read or borrow books to take away. There is no longer any revolutionary talk among those who converse; there is Socialism, of course, but that is very different. It would be difficult indeed for a young man to escape some of the Socialist ideas which are in the air, and are producing unexpected and far-reaching results. Here, however, except among a few foreigners, we have no Anarchists. The wages are better, the hours are shorter; there is a Saturday half-holiday; there are four Bank holidays in the year, besides Christmas Day and Good Friday. Everything is cheaper--food and clothes of all kinds. Lectures, concerts, dramatic recitals, debates, dances, are got up everywhere by the working-men for themselves.

The working-man’s attitude towards the Church, to which I have already alluded, has quite changed of late years. He formerly regarded it with a ferocious hatred, being taught by the papers they published for him that the clergy believe nothing, and wallow in ease and luxury at his expense. “Why,” said one of them to me twenty years ago, “if the Church was abolished we should all get our breakfast for nothing.” That kind of talk has now vanished. If the Sunday morning orator still denounces Christianity with perfervid vehemence--as he used to do in the Whitechapel Road--the working-man listens with a smile and presently goes on to the next ring, where the Socialist preaches universal happiness to come as soon as we can get the much-desired equal division; and him, too, he leaves presently with another smile. He is not in the least moved by either orator.

Canon Barnett’s Church in Whitechapel is an example of what may be done with a parish composed entirely of working-people. They do not attend his services, I believe. But he has educated them into an audience which listens intelligently to the best and most thoughtful and most cultivated scholars and teachers of the day; they flock every year to a Loan Exhibition of Pictures which he collects for them; he gives them receptions, concerts, discussions; he has built Toynbee Hall in their midst as a settlement and place of culture. Some of them he has made students and scholars: it is not too much to say that Canon Barnett’s parishioners are intellectually far above the average of the class supposed to be their superiors--that of the shopkeepers and the traders. However, it would not be fair to take these people as an average of our working-man. When I think of the mass of the people as they were sixty years ago--how ignorant they were, how drunken, how brutal, how dangerous to order and to government, how unruly, how disloyal--I cannot but claim for the men of the present a change nothing short of transformation! There is still much to be done, the Millennium is not yet reached; but there is no comparison--none--between the people of 1837 and the people of 1897; and the advantage is all on one side.






“Will you mock at an ancient tradition?”--_Henry V._

When one speaks of the Bourgeois, one means the class which Matthew Arnold was never tired of ridiculing as without culture, ideals, or standards. For my own part, I think it would be more useful to recognise, first, that there are certain occupations in life which can be carried on very well without ideals; that the advent or genesis of ideas among certain people would inevitably spoil them for their humble work; and that it is sufficient for the State if they remain on the side of order, with due respect to law and justice. Now, whatever the short-comings of these people with respect to culture, no one can complain of them with respect to their love of order.

A craftsman--a man who makes anything--may cultivate himself to the highest, and remain a craftsman; he may be an artist; he may be a poet; he may nourish himself upon the noblest thoughts, and yet remain a craftsman. Out of the trade of shoemakers have sprung poets, artists, and actors. Cobblers have been fierce politicians. But a man who sells the shoes which another man makes cannot, in the nature of things, cultivate lofty standards or æsthetic ideals. His occupation, which has in it something servile, forbids it. And I have here to speak of the English tradesman, and to show the transformation which has fallen upon him too.

Let us consider the daily life of a London shopkeeper early in the present century. He had a shop in Cheapside. The shop occupied the front part of the ground-floor: at the back was the “parlour,” the family living-room, which looked out upon a small churchyard, in which funerals were conducted almost daily; the ground was covered with bones and bits of coffins; once a month or so the sexton made a bonfire of the wood. Upstairs were the bedrooms--the best bedroom in front, which nobody ever occupied because there were no guests. Here the tenant of the house lived, he and his family; they had no change, and desired none, from day to day. An apprentice lived with them, slept under the counter, and made himself useful in the house as well as in the shop--washing plates and dishes after meals and running errands for his mistress. One servant was kept; she and the daughters and the mistress of the house were all occupied perpetually in making things; they made puddings, cakes, jam, preserves, pickles, cordials, perfumes, washes, and home-made wines--thin and pallid fluids named after cowslip, primrose, raspberry, and currant. When they were not making or cooking they were sewing; all the women of the house sewed perpetually--they were slaves to the needle: they sat round the table in the parlour, with a single candle, and sewed in silence all through a winter evening. The girls had been to school; they went to a private school in the suburbs, where they learned various small feminine accomplishments; they learned from their mother certain maxims which should regulate the conduct of every maiden. And on Sunday they turned out for church in toilettes whose splendour highly gratified the pride of their father, because they seemed to challenge all Cheapside to spend more money upon the daughters’ dress. Yet he knew, and all the neighbours knew, that this finery was all contrived at home--hats trimmed, ribbons and streamers put in place, and the lovely sleeve designed by the girls themselves. At church they enjoyed a service which we should call lugubrious. The psalms were read, two hymns were sung but slowly, and the sermon, an hour long, was an argument on doctrine; but there was the pleasure of sitting in the Sunday best, which made one forget the doctrine and enjoy the hymns.



_Painting by Landseer_


All day long in the week, and during a good part of the evening, the good man served in his shop. It was a shop of which survivals may still be found in various parts of London--a shop with a round window furnished with many small panes of glass; the window was not garnished with the choicest wares which this dealer had to sell--not at all; he prided himself on keeping much better things within than those which he chose to show. After dark the window was illumined by two or three candles.

He breakfasted, for the most part, on tea and toast; he dined at one o’clock, plentifully if not luxuriously; it was not the custom, among his class, to invite friends to dinner. The house, in fact, was regarded as a kind of sacred harem, to which no one was invited. Friends, however, were taken to the tavern. Unless he was a Dissenter, this citizen was a member of the Vestry, and served all the parish offices. On Sunday he dined more plentifully than on a week day: he was a member of a club which met once a week; there he exchanged sentiments which we should call commonplace, but they were expected; any other sentiments would have affected his friends painfully, with doubt and misgiving.

These sentiments were based upon convictions fixed and unalterable. He believed--long before any Reform Bill--that the only land of liberty was Great Britain; that British armies were irresistible, and British fleets were ever victorious; that the greatest enemy to mankind was the Pope; that the greatest crime conceivable was not to pay your debts, especially debts contracted with a tradesman of Cheapside; that the greatest disgrace was to become bankrupt. A debtor’s prison he regarded as the chief safeguard and stay of British trade; he would listen to no sentimental nonsense about locking up debtors--every debtor ought to be locked up, ought to be flogged, ought to be hanged!


[Illustration: ST. GEORGE’S CHAPEL]

He entertained no sympathy with trades unions: the working-man was the servant of his employer; it was not for him to regulate his own wages and his hours; he was to take what he could get, what the generosity of his master, what the conditions of trade, allowed him to have.

This man, of whom there were many hundred thousands in the country, read no books; he was quite ignorant of what we call everything, that is, of literature, science, art, music, history. Something he knew of what was going on, because there were newspapers at the tavern, which he sometimes read. But he took in no newspaper, and he read no books. There were no books in his house at all; his girls read no books. A book of Family Prayers there was; and for Church purposes, Prayer Books and Bibles, but no books. And so this man, with all his household, lived and died, as Matthew Arnold pointed out, without culture, without ideals, without standards, without aspirations.



He had become, after the Mob Riots of the eighteenth century, a prodigious coward. Formerly, as in 1715, when a mob appeared in the street, he had run to the mug-house or tavern, seized a club, and sallied forth to disperse that mob. Gradually he lost courage; he stayed at home; he was sleek and fat and unwarlike; when the mob came along he put up his shutters, locked his door, and sat behind it trembling. However, the establishment of the New Police sufficiently repressed the mob, and made the question of the civic valour no longer necessary.

For holidays, he had none, that is to say, he felt no need of any change year after year; he lived the daily routine, and would not alter it if he could. Some of his neighbours--a few--had begun to go in the summer to Brighton or to Margate. Not our friend; he stayed where he was, with his nose over the churchyard, and said that London air was best. Once a year he might take his family to Bagnigge Wells or over to Vauxhall; on summer evenings he would walk with them in the pleasant fields outside the city walls; he wanted no other holiday. Nor did his people. His daughters married and left him; but he and his wife kept on where they were until the end.

The man himself, ill-educated, vulgar, incapable of understanding anything except that which lies on the surface, unfortunately stood in the eyes of the world to represent the City: the trading merchants had gradually withdrawn from the Corporation, leaving it to the shopkeepers, so that for a time the Mayor and Corporation of the greatest city of the world were drawn from a narrow, vulgar part of the community. Not only the city, but trade itself fell into contempt during this interval. You may remember that Thackeray is filled with contempt of trade, with his Alderman Gobble and the purse-proud merchants.

One point must be acknowledged in favour of this man. He was a great stickler for what he called morals--not including that part of morals which deals with the treatment of dependents. Private character he expected of his friends: a young man who came courting his daughters had to bring with him an unsullied private character. You may note, if you please, because the virtue is the foundation of all trade, that in his private expenditure he was thrifty.

How, then, has this man been affected by the changes of sixty years?

First, his trade is entirely altered. The extension of machinery has affected every line of trade. In watchmaking, for instance, the best watches were made in Clerkenwell: they cost from six pounds to a hundred and twenty pounds; a machine-made watch can now be obtained for twenty shillings. So with stuffs, velvets, silks, ribbons, everything: machinery has largely increased the production and as largely diminished the cost. This means, as one effect, that less capital is required to embark in trade. Free Trade, which has done such great things for this country, though we make no converts, has largely affected the retail trade.


Apart from his trade the English tradesman’s private life has been completely changed. He no longer lives next to a noisome burial-ground in the city; he has a villa in a suburb; he goes into town every morning and comes out in the evening; the old evenings with the city cronies are things of the past. In his suburb there is very little social life even for his children; for himself there is none. He does not frequent theatres or concerts; he stays at home. In the morning he reads a newspaper; in the evening he reads books and plays cribbage. As for his children they have forgotten the former stage; they are well educated; they go into the professions; they are artistic and become Art students; they are as well read as can be desired; they are in the stream of modern ideas.

Not only this, but the social position of the tradesman has been raised: here and there one may find a huge palace devoted to the sale of everything; the palace has been created by the genius of one man, and is controlled by the mind of one man. It is impossible to feel anything but respect and admiration for a man of such great ability, who has created interests so vast and so commanding.

The shopkeeper has, for the most part, abandoned the Corporation; he no longer seeks office in the city; when he does, he is a man who can hold his own with the merchants who have once more taken over the municipality; the City is the gainer by the change, and so is the London tradesman, because what advances the reputation of the City also advances him.


_Painting by Sir Edwin Landseer_


The forces which have changed the common people have also acted upon himself and his family: the widening of the world, improved communication, and cheap postage and the rest. His young people are not concerned with the polytechnics, but they are moved by the spirit of athletics that drag all the youth of this country into the playing-fields. They career over the country on bicycles; they play golf, lawn-tennis, cricket, football; they are not shut out from suburban society by the old exclusiveness with which “wholesale people” formerly regarded “retail people.” The playing-field is a leveller; there is no rank in a football team.

[Illustration: BALMORAL CASTLE]


_Painting by C. R. Leslie_


Let us not forget to remark how large a knowledge of geography is possessed by our friend of Cheapside. You would be amazed at the extent: sure and certain I am that the average American citizen cannot compare with my man in this respect. He has learned this knowledge by following day after day the wars and rumours of wars which assail the country continually. Since the accession of Queen Victoria, we have carried on war in Canada, at the Cape, in India, in New Zealand, on the West Coast of Africa, in the Crimea, in Egypt, in China, in Abyssinia, in Dahomey, in Burmah, in Afghanistan, in Chitral, and I know not where beside. This good man, with his newspaper and his atlas, gets up his geography from day to day and from war to war.


_Painting by F. Winterhalter_


There is perhaps a “seamy” side to trade of every kind. With that I have no concern whatever; I have only to show here how the events of sixty years have affected the London tradesman, and this, I venture to hope, I have succeeded in doing. Again, it must be understood that I am talking of the better class--not necessarily the richer class--of London retail dealers. There are, I believe, those who live for making money, and have no other care or thought. For them order, law, peace, justice exist for no other purpose than to allow the most perfect freedom for the besting of the customer. The old Cheapside trader was narrow and stupid; these people are neither narrow nor stupid; they are sharp; they exist in every trading city; they are purse-proud and ostentatious; they flourish their wealth at the “Grand Hotels”; they wear the finest fur and the richest silk--and, if you please, we will say no more about them.





“I charge you by the law, Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar.” _Merchant of Venice._

Sixty years ago there were three professions and two services. The two services were the Army and the Navy; the three professions were the Church, Law, and Medicine.

The Church was the natural home of the scholars: a few scholars drafted off into the Law; there were also a few in the House, where they made apt quotations from Horace, and delighted the members by giving a Virgilian turn to a debate. Nowadays--alas!--were a scholar to venture on a Latin quotation, the House would not understand.

It is pleasant to look back upon the quiet, uneventful, peaceful life of the early Victorian scholar. He began at a public school, where he needed no stimulus in the way of stripes; he devoured books; he acquired scholarship by a kind of intuition; he wrote Latin verses, in which every hexameter had a Virgilian phrase and every pentameter reminded one of Ovid; he wrote Greek Iambics more easily than the most rapid English poet ever composed blank verse; he thought in Latin; he made jokes in Greek. This boy gained, of course, a School scholarship and entered one of the Colleges of Oxford or Cambridge. Here he obtained one of the College scholarships; one of the University scholarships; all the prizes that there were for Latin and Greek compositions; and at last took the highest degree possible in Classical Honours. This done, a Fellowship was the next step. This place was worth about £300 a year, with rooms, commons, and dinner free. There were no duties attached: if he chose to take Orders and to remain unmarried he might keep his Fellowship for life. He did take Orders: he was appointed College Lecturer in Classics; he remained Lecturer for ten years, when the Tutor took a College Living; he then succeeded to the Tutorship, which was worth three or four thousand a year. He then had two courses open to him: he might remain Tutor long enough to amass a considerable fortune, and then take a College Living and retire into the country; or he might wait on, presently retire, and either finish his days as a Fellow, or be perhaps elected to the Mastership, a post both dignified and well endowed. By this time he had passed the period when men most desire to marry: he was settled in most excellent rooms; he had a free library; his habits were fixed; the College Port was renowned; he was too comfortable to run the risk of change. Therefore he stayed where he was, within the walls of the old College, and younger men took the College Livings. He never wrote anything to prove his own learning or to advance the learning of others; he produced nothing except a few Greek epigrams. And when at last he died there was for a brief period a memory of one who had been among them--a great scholar--and then oblivion closed over him and he was gone. Such was the life of the Don. Sometimes he retired from the College and took the Head Mastership of a school, but not often.


_Painting by Count D’Orsay_


All the clergy were not College Dons and great scholars. Yet there was always, at that period, a flavour of scholarship about them: the beneficed clergy of the country were generally younger sons of the country gentry, because almost every family had a church living in its gifts, and these livings were too valuable to be bestowed out of the family. A young man who took a curacy in the country without family influence probably found himself stranded for life on eighty pounds a year. Those of the benefices which did not belong to private patrons were either in the gift of the Lord Chancellor, with whom interest was required; or of the Bishop, who had his own relations to provide for: of the sons, nephews, and cousins, for instance, of Dr. Sparke, sometime Bishop of Norwich, it was said “as the Sparkes fly upwards;” or of some college at Oxford or Cambridge which wanted them for its Fellows. The only chance for such a man was to attract attention as a preacher in some town. But this chance came to few; therefore for half the clergy at least their profession was a starveling. Yet those who had no interest entered it, in hopes and under the pressure of a call which they believed to be real, and not to be disobeyed under penalties too awful to be contemplated. Meantime it is now nearly fifty years since Charles Kingsley, who could never shake off the prejudice of small middle-class gentility, uttered the sneer that the modern way of making your son a gentleman was to send him to Oxford first and to put him in Holy Orders next. He here expressed, however, a common feeling about the clergy, which was that they should be scholars first, gentlemen next, and Divines last. And there is no doubt that the social position of the Church, and, therefore, the adhesion of all the better classes to the Church, has proved of the greatest value, in times of religious decay, towards maintaining the Church in her position of ascendency.

The administration of the parish was still that of the eighteenth century. That is to say, the Church was there, before all people, with open doors, offering its services, its sermons, its offices, freely to all who chose to accept them. It was not considered the business of the clergy to run after those who refused their offices. As for the piety and the reputation of the clergy, their lives were pure; there was commonly no scandal: they were supposed, however, to be addicted to wine, and in the City there were some who were known as “three bottle men.” In opinions the majority were of the Evangelical type, with Calvinistic leanings: they preached sermons wholly on points of doctrine. The general belief was that mere membership in the Church was of no importance at all, and that the salvation of the soul was an independent and separate transaction carried on between the individual and his Creator. This kind of preaching has not yet wholly ceased, but it is rare: such preachers are no longer heeded.



Let us compare the Church of the present day. It is no longer a Church of scholars: there are still some learned members in it, but the old presumption that a clergyman must be a scholar, is quite lost and forgotten; rather the presumption is the other way, that a clergyman is not a scholar. The young scholars of the day do not, as a rule, take upon them Holy Orders: there are too many openings for their intellectual activities. Moreover, the prizes are not what they were. Agricultural depression has ruined the fellowships, cut down by one half the country livings, destroyed the value of Deaneries and Canonries. The Bishoprics still, however, keep their value, and a profession cannot be thought very poor which numbers so many prizes as the Church of England, with her Archbishops and her Bishops. Preaching, which was formerly so important a part of Church work, has decayed deplorably. The reason is the development of the parish work, which now occupies the whole time of the clergy, leaving them no time for meditation and study. For, since the people will not come to the clergy, the clergy condescend to stoop to the people. At the present moment the Church is the centre of numberless institutions and associations which aim at civilising the people rather than making them religious. The clergy preside over clubs for the lads, clubs for the girls, temperance associations, mothers’ meetings, sales of clothing, lectures, concerts, care of the poor and of the sick, benefit societies, visiting organisations, Sunday schools, country holiday funds, convalescent homes, and a thousand other things. Now the working people, and especially the very lowest class, regard this activity with a kind of admiring wonder; they see these young fellows--many of whom are not clergy, but live among them--working morning, noon, and night for no reward: they are touched by this devotion; their lads would follow them to the death. I do not say that this example makes them religious, but it fills them with that new feeling towards religion which has been already considered. The doctrines held by the present clergy are in most cases High Church, with which, personally, I have no kind of sympathy. At the same time, one must admit that the modern views have destroyed the dreadful terrors about Election and Predestination: in the Anglican, as in the Roman Church, once more the Fold protects.


In Law and Medicine, fewer changes have been made. In the former, a barrister was not allowed to make a friend of an attorney, or to take his hand, or to visit at his house. The low class attorney-at-law, of whom there were a great many, practised with impunity all kinds of iniquities and conspiracies; he was, indeed, an enemy to the human race; he was usurer; he was the concoctor of civil actions, which he dragged on interminably;--it was he who filled the prisons with unfortunate prisoners; he robbed the widow and defrauded the fatherless; he took advantage of difficulties which he aggravated--he charged what he pleased. The power of the attorney--now called solicitor--for mischief is very greatly curtailed;--a taxing master looks after his bills; he can no longer clap a debtor into prison; he is liable to be struck off the rolls for misconduct.

In Medicine the physician never claimed so great a superiority over the surgeon. If he did, that superiority has vanished. Great are the recent triumphs of surgery: not so great, perhaps, those of medicine. In those days the surgeon operated in the presence of the physician; he did not aspire to the medical degree; he could not be called “Doctor.” There were no anæsthetics in those days; operations of all kinds were limited by the patient’s power of endurance: a long operation killed, because there is a limit to the endurance of pain. The discoveries of the laboratory have placed the treatment of all disease on a new and more scientific footing. Fortunately, I am not called upon in this place to do more than indicate changes that only a medical student could properly explain. We can, however, all understand the ward, clean and neat, with regulated temperature; the patients under the care of bright and cheerful nurses; the hospitals “walked” not by the young ruffians of the “Bob Sawyer” type, but keen and eager students, with whom science is more than a mere profession, and the causes of diseases more than their cure.


Sixty years ago, I said, there were only three professions. How many are there now, recognised as on an equal footing of dignity and importance with these three?

Formerly, Architecture was not considered a profession. I remember long ago, in the Sixties, listening to a group of men who were discussing whether architecture had any claims at all to be a profession--certainly the local architect was also the house-agent--and whether a gentleman could belong to it. I believe they agreed that it was only a trade.


Formerly, there was no profession of science at all. At Cambridge there were chairs of Mathematics, of Chemistry, and of other branches. But there was no profession of any branch of science. No man set up a laboratory and said “I am a chemist by profession”; there were none of the great Schools for Physical Science, such as now exist at Cambridge, at South Kensington, at Newcastle, and at other places; no young men began by “going in” for science, as they do at present. That profession which offers the noblest prizes of fame and name, together with a sufficiency of income, has been created in all its numerous branches within the last sixty years. The British Association made the world familiar with the claims and the work of the new science. Such men as Humphry Davy, Faraday, Darwin, Huxley, Tyndall, and so many others, who will be accounted the chief luminaries of this age, planted firmly the claims of science in the minds of the people, and raised the position of science to the same level as that of Latin and Greek scholarship. All these physicists, electricians, zoologists, biologists, chemists, and the rest have come into existence during the Queen’s reign. The teaching of science at our Universities and Schools, the multiplication of new Colleges in all the Colonies, as well as at home, have created places for these students and a demand for their teaching: they have also created a demand for new books, which only these teachers were able to supply.

Formerly, again, the position of teacher in a school, except when one was Headmaster of Eton, Harrow, or Winchester, was one of curious contempt. The reason for this contempt was simple: it was the connection between a schoolmaster and his floggings. That connection has now ceased. At a few schools, the Head exercises the old business with the birch: it is regarded as a custom or a usage rendered venerable by antiquity. “I was swished,” said a young fellow the other day, “nineteen times when I was at school. I have always regretted that I didn’t make it twenty.” But the assistant masters have no power of inflicting personal chastisement.

This old contempt has vanished: the profession is now regarded with great respect, and carries with it a proper amount of social consideration. No young man, formerly, who could by any possibility get into any other line of life, would take a place as assistant master even in a public school. If he did, it was in hopes of obtaining a boarding-house and making a rapid fortune. The position is now literally run after by young University men of the greatest distinction and the best credentials as to scholarship. The present Headmaster of Harrow, writing to the papers some time ago, made this suggestive observation. I quote from memory--“I believe that I have at Harrow, at this moment, the best collection of assistants that were ever gathered together at any public school. Yet I am certain that if they were all to resign, I could replace them very shortly by another collection equally good.” So ready, so eager, are the young scholars of the day to become masters in the public schools. Sixty years ago they would have stayed on at Oxford or Cambridge, and led the life already described of the Scholar, the Fellow, and the College Tutor.

Another new profession, though to the younger men it seems an old profession, is that of engineering. There are many branches of engineering: one constructs piers, jetties, railways, bridges, great works like the Forth Bridge, or smaller bridges, tunnels, roads, embankments, and the like. Another devises and constructs machinery of all kinds, another controls electricity: there must be an engineer in every factory as in every little steamer. Great prizes in money and fortune belong to this profession. It is eminently a learned profession: to attain unto any degree of eminence in it one must be a good mathematician.

Other new professions are those of the actuary and the accountant. And there are “followings” once not allowed to be professional, such as that of the painter and the sculptor, the work of literature, music, acting, etc. A young man may enter any one of these branches of mental achievement: he may choose his own department; he will occupy as good a social position as the young barrister; he will belong to the professional class. As for the prizes in some of them, if they are not equal to those of the Bar or the Church, they are considerable; in some kinds of literature, such as educational books, fiction, and the drama, successful writers command incomes which would be considered incredible by Douglas Jerrold and the wits of the early Victorian era.

To recapitulate. Where there were three professions sixty years ago there are now dozens: given a young man of ability and activity, it is difficult not to find for him an opening where he will get a chance of gaining a splendid prize of success. For the man of exceptional ability, the Church leads him to a Bishopric with a life peerage and £10,000 a year; the Bar leads him to an income of £10,000 a year, and, if he pleases, a peerage; Medicine may give him £15,000 a year, also with a peerage, or a baronetcy, if he wishes one; all the other professions have their splendid prizes and their magnificent chances which are open to a young man of ability. Compared with the condition of 1837, we are like the occupants of a broad expanse of country which has been suddenly widened in all directions by the removal of walls and fences and the abolition of prohibitions.

One thing remains with the new as with the old professions: they all demand an apprenticeship and a training. No one can enter the Law, or Medicine, or any other, without being able to pay, over a period of five years, at least a thousand pounds, probably two thousand when all is done. Until this condition is removed, which is not likely to happen, it is not true to say, or to think, that every career in this country is open to every boy.





“A perfect Woman, nobly planned, To warn, to comfort, and command; And yet a Spirit still, and bright With something of angelic light.” WORDSWORTH.

Let me present to you, first, an early Victorian girl, born, indeed, about the Waterloo year; next, her granddaughter, born about 1875.

The young lady of 1837 has been to a fashionable school: she has learned accomplishments, deportment, and dress. She is full of sentiment: there was an amazing amount of sentiment in the air about that time--she loves to talk and read about gallant knights, crusaders, and troubadours; she gently touches the guitar--her sentiment, or her little affectation, has touched her with a graceful melancholy, a becoming stoop, a sweet pensiveness; she loves the aristocracy, even though her home is in that part of London called Bloomsbury, whither the belted earl cometh not, even though her papa goes into the City; she reads a deal of poetry, especially those poems which deal with the affections, of which there are many at this time; on Sunday she goes to church religiously and pensively, followed by a footman carrying her Prayer Book and a long stick; she can play on the guitar and the piano a few easy pieces which she has learned; she knows a few words of French, which she produces at frequent intervals; as to history, geography, science, the condition of the people, her mind is an entire blank; she knows nothing of these things. Her conversation is commonplace, as her ideas are limited; she cannot reason on any subject whatever because of her ignorance,--as she herself would say, because she is a woman. In her presence, and indeed in the presence of ladies generally, men talk trivialities. There was indeed a general belief that women were creatures incapable of argument, or of reason, or of connected thought. It was no use arguing about the matter. The Lord had made them so. Women, said the philosophers, cannot understand logic: they see things, if they do see them at all, by instinctive perception. This theory accounted for everything--for those cases when women undoubtedly did “see things.” Also, it fully justified people in withholding from women any kind of education worthy the name. A quite needless expense, you understand.


The girl who lived in Bloomsbury Square, or in the suburbs--say Clapham Common--had, in those days, to make herself happy with slender and simple materials. There were very few concerts: I think the Philharmonic was already in existence; Oratorios were sometimes performed: it was not every girl who liked what was then called classical music; the general cultivation of music was poor and meagre, and within very narrow limits: people liked songs, it is true, especially pathetic songs. These, like the poetry of the _Keepsake_ and _Friendship’s Offering_, mostly turned on the domestic affections. The young ladies recognised this sentiment, bought or copied those songs, and sang the most mournful of ditties. Everybody, in every class which respected itself and claimed gentility of any kind, talked about the opera, to which the well-to-do young lady was taken once a year, solemnly. This gave her the right for the rest of the year to talk about the _repertoire_, and to speak with disrespect of the leading singers.

The theatre was very seldom visited; indeed there were reasons why it was not desirable that young ladies should go to the theatre; if they did go it was an event very much discussed both before and after. There were only one or two theatres that respectable people could possibly attend, and the one part of the house where ladies could be seen was the dress circle. Now in the Thirties, if my information is correct, there were good actors, but the plays were monstrously bad. The Queen, however, used to like going to the theatre. If you walk down to those north of the Strand, you may see how the road was widened for her to go to the Adelphi melodramas. The reading of girls was carefully selected for them; in serious circles--there were many circles in 1840 privileged to be serious--fiction was absolutely forbidden; its place was taken by religious biography: wonderful to think how large a part was played by religious biography about that time. I do not know what books besides these biographies and records of “conversation” were allowed, but I imagine that there were not many. At all events, a young woman must not be allowed to read anything which would suggest to her the wickedness of the world, the realities of the world, the truth about men and women, or the meanings of humanity. She was to leave her mother’s nest not only innocent--girls do still leave their mothers in innocence--but also in a state of ignorance, which was then mistaken for a state of grace. How far she really was ignorant no one but herself could tell; one imagines that there may have been some knowledge behind that demure countenance that was not generally suspected.


_Painting by Winterhalter_



As for her accomplishments, they comprised, apart from the knowledge of a few pieces on the guitar and the piano, some slight power of sketching or flower-painting in water-colours. Of course it was nothing better than the amusement of an amateur. As for attempting literature, no one, with very few exceptions, ever thought of it. There was then but a limited demand for women’s literary work--a very limited demand--yet there had already been some very fine work done by women. Mrs. Ellis was writing those famous and immortal works of hers on the _Women of England_, the _Mothers of England_, the _Wives of England_, the _Daughters of England_,--so far as I know, for the subject is inexhaustible, the _Housemaids of England_. These essays, which I fear, dear reader, you have never seen, endeavoured to mould woman on the theory of recognised intellectual inferiority to man. She was considered beneath him in intellect as in physical strength; she was exhorted to defer to man, to acknowledge his superiority--not to show herself anxious to combat his opinions. At this very time, one woman at least--Harriet Martineau--was proving to the world that there were exceptions to the inferiority of the sex in matters of reason; while another woman--Marian Evans--already grown up, was shortly to enter the field with another illustration of the same remarkable fact.

It has been often charged against Thackeray that his good women were insipid. Thackeray, like most artists, could only draw the women of his own time, and at that time they were undoubtedly insipid. Men, I suppose, liked them so. To be childishly ignorant; to carry shrinking modesty so far as to find the point of a shoe projecting beyond the folds of a frock indelicate; to confess that serious subjects were beyond a woman’s grasp; never even to pretend to form an independent judgment; to know nothing of Art, History, Science, Literature, Politics, Sociology, Manners;--men liked these things; women yielded to please the men; her very ignorance formed a subject of laudable pride with the Englishwoman of the Forties.


_Painting by Winterhalter_

“FIRST MAY 1851”


As for doing serious work, the girl of that period shrank appalled at the very thought. To earn one’s livelihood was the deepest degradation; the most sincere pity was felt for those unhappy girls whose fathers died or failed, or left them unprovided, so that they must needs do something. It was pity mingled with contempt. Even this meek and gentle maiden of the early Victorian period could feel--and could show--the emotion of contempt. Readers of Cranford will remember how the unfortunate lady opened a tea shop; those ladies who were too old or too ignorant for teaching--“going out” as a governess--sometimes set up a “fancy” shop, where children’s things--lace, embroideries, things in wool and pretty trifles--were sold. I remember such a shop kept by two gentlewomen, old, reduced, decayed; but they were very sad, always in the lowest depressions; I fear it was but a poor business. There were no professions open to women. Those who did not marry--they were comparatively few--stayed at home with one of the brothers, generally the eldest, and as often as not, such an unmarried sister proved the angel of the house. Sometimes, to be sure, the lot was hard, and she was made to feel her dependence. In general, I like to believe, the single woman of the family, in whom all confided, in whom all trusted,--the nurse of the sick; the contriver and designer of the girls’ frocks; the maker of fine cakes and the owner of choice recipes; who knew all the branches of a numerous family; who kept together the brothers and cousins who would fly apart but for her,--was as much valued as she deserved to be.


There were many ways of “going out” as a governess. The most miserable lot of all was considered--and no doubt was--to be a resident teacher in a girls’ school. In this position there was no society of any kind; there was no chance of meeting young men; there was no pleasure; there was an enforced and unnatural pretence at virtue; there was no hope of change, no hope of happiness, no hope of love; there was not even any chance of making money. One might also become a visiting governess and undertake the children of a house for the day: this gave liberty for the evening. One might become a resident governess in a house: this exposed a girl to the insolence of the servants, the advances of the sons, the caprices or snubs of her employer. Novels of thirty years ago are full of the down-trodden governess. One pities her, because the position, even at the best, must have been beastly--indeed, I remember very well--and the position intolerable for snubs and slights. At the same time, her employer complained that she was meek to exasperation, and resigned to a point which maddened. I have known ladies who were quite carried away: they became speechless in trying to tell of the meekness of a governess. Again, a girl might teach music, if she knew any--a thankless task when the stupidities of the pupils were visited on the teacher. A woman was not allowed to teach dancing: for a most praiseworthy reason, you cannot teach dancing without showing more than the tips of the toes--half the foot perhaps--where, then, is feminine modesty? This accomplishment was therefore taught by a professor, generally a man who had played in his youth some small part in the operatic ballet; he carried a little “kit” or small fiddle, with which he discoursed a scraping, watery kind of music, while his nimble feet showed the way, and his thin legs cut single or double capers which the girls admired, but were not naturally invited to imitate. Nor could a woman teach writing and arithmetic--I cannot possibly explain why. For some unknown reason these useful arts were always taught by men. Yet women could add up; women could write, even in the year 1840. One such teacher of arithmetic and penmanship I knew. He practised entirely in girls’ schools. He was proud of his profession, which he ranked with those of Divinity and Law. He was full of innocuous jokes and, so to speak, non-alcoholic stories. He died about twenty years ago, ruined, he told me, by the introduction of women into the profession.


_Painting by Winterhalter_


I say, then, that in the year 1840, so far as I can remember, there was hardly a single occupation in which a gentlewoman could engage, except that of teaching. Miniature painting can hardly be called an exception, because it is given to so few to be painters. She could not lecture or speak in public. St. Paul’s admonition to women, that they must not “chatter” in church, interpreted to forbid public-speaking in church, was extended to every kind of public-speaking. No woman so much as dreamed of speaking in public at this time. Later on, a Mrs. Clara Balfour astonished people by lecturing in Literary Institutes. I believe she was the first. I remember hearing her lecture. The people sat with gloomy faces: when they came away they shook their heads. “Irregular, my dear madam.” “Sir, it is irreligious.” “Madam, it was an unfeminine and revolting Exhibition.” These comments were heard on the stairs. This system of artificial restraints certainly produced faithful wives, gentle mothers, loving sisters, able housewives. God forbid that we should say otherwise, but it is certain that the intellectual attainments of women were then what we should call contemptible, and the range of subjects of which they knew anything was absurdly narrow and limited. I detect the woman of 1840 in the character of Mrs. Clive Newcome, and, indeed, in Mrs. George Osborne and other familiar characters of Thackeray.

Of Society in 1840 let me speak only of the wealthier City class--the people who lived in big houses in Bloomsbury or in the suburbs. They had “evenings” with a little music; they were very decorous. The young men stood round the wall or in the doorways. The little music included those songs of the affections already mentioned. There was a little refreshment handed about, or set out in the dining-room. It consisted of sandwiches, cake, and negus. Sometimes there was a dinner party. The company were invited for half-past six. The dinner--always the same, or nearly the same--consisted of salmon cutlets, haunch of mutton, boiled fowl, and tongue; birds of some kind, and pudding of one or two kinds. The dishes were put on the table; everybody helped each other. Nobody drank anything until the host had first taken wine with him; there was nothing to drink at dinner except sherry. After dinner the port went round once; the ladies retired,--this was about half-past seven or a quarter to eight. The men closed up; fresh decanters were placed on the table, and they drank port steadily till half-past ten, _i.e._ for three long hours. Then they went upstairs to the drawing-room; and, as if the port was not enough, they had brandy and water hot.

I have spoken of the wealthier class, but there was, and there is still, an immense number of girls belonging to the ranks where care and thrift were necessary in all things. In this class the unfortunate girls were slaves to the needle. All day and all the evening they were engaged in making and mending and darning. Families were large: there were little children and big boys; and the pile of linen and of stockings waiting to be mended seemed never to grow less, while the pile of things that had to be made grew steadily greater.

A generation that has grown up with a sewing-machine cannot understand this slavery. Think of this machine which sews up a length of three feet in a minute, and of the time that was formerly required to do the same work by hand. It is not too much to say that the sewing-machine set free millions of girls. What they are doing with their freedom is considered in the next few pages.

It was, at the best, an artificial and unnatural life. There was something Oriental in the seclusion of women in the home, and their exclusion from active and practical life; it led to many a rude awakening, many a shattered idol, many a blow which embittered the rest of life.




I must not forget, in considering the Englishwoman of 1840, her extraordinary cowardice. It was impressed upon her from childhood that she was a poor, weak creature--that she needed protection even in broad daylight. Therefore, when a young lady of fortune went abroad, unless she drove in her carriage she had a hulking footman walking behind her. If she was not a lady of fortune, she was escorted by a maid; she could go nowhere by herself; she saw danger at every corner, and was ready to scream at meeting a strange man in the open street. Nor must we forget her little affectations: she could not help them; they were part of her education. For instance, it was a very common affectation with girls that they could not eat anything at all, such was their extraordinary delicacy and elevation above the common mortal. So they sat at dinner with a morsel upon their plates, which they left untouched. Some girls made up for this privation by a valiant lunch; some habitually lived low, and practised, though in no religious spirit, abstemious austerities. I think, however, that the girl who wished to be thought consumptive, cultivated a hectic bloom, and coughed and fainted, carried affectation perhaps too far.




Such was the woman of 1840: in London, among the richer sort, a gentle doll, often good and affectionate, unselfish and devoted, religious, charitable, tender-hearted; sometimes, through the shutting up of all the channels for intellectual activity, snappish, impatient, and shrewish; in the country, in addition to these qualities, a housewife of the very first order.

Let us turn to the Englishwoman--the young Englishwoman--of 1897.



She is educated. Whatsoever things are taught to the young man are taught to the young woman. The keys of knowledge are given to her; she gathers of the famous tree. If she wants to explore the wickedness of the world she can do so, for it is all in the books. The secrets of Nature are not closed to her; she can learn the structure of the body if she wishes. The secrets of science are all open to her if she cares to study them. At school, at college, she studies just as the young man studies, but harder and with greater concentration. She has proved her ability in the Honours Tripos of every branch; she has beaten the Senior Wrangler in mathematics; she has taken a first-class in classics, in history, in science, in languages. She has proved, not that she is man’s equal in intellect, though she claims so much, because she has not yet advanced any branch of learning or science one single step, but she has proved her capacity to take her place beside the young men who are the flower of their generation--the young men who stand in the first class in Honours when they take their degree. It is from such young men that our best statesmen, our judges, our ablest lawyers, our historians, our scholars, our divines, are taken, and among them the young Englishwomen of the day stand _inter pares_.






She has invaded the professions. She cannot become a priest, because the Oriental prejudice against women still prevails, so that women in High Church places are not allowed to sing in the choir, or to play the organ, not to speak of preaching. For some reason or other, women have never written nobly on religion. They have written powerful religious novels, but there has never been among them a Dean Stanley or a Hooker. Nay, more, I have never heard of a woman carrying her classical studies into the ecclesiastical domain; and unless one is a scholar, it seems impossible to write nobly of religion. In the same way, she cannot enter the Law, because the portals of the Law are closed in her face by the Inns of Court, which will not allow her to become a barrister, and by the Law Institute, which will not allow her to become a solicitor. Some day she will get over this restriction, but not yet. For a long time she was kept out of medicine. That restriction is now removed; she can, and she does, practise as a physician or a surgeon, generally the former. I believe that she has shown in this profession, as in her university studies, she can stand, _inter pares_, among her equals and her peers, not her superiors. There is no branch of literature in which women have not distinguished themselves. None, it is true, in which they have attained the same distinction as a few men--a very few men; but among those called the foremost in their generation, woman stands their equal. In music they compose, but not greatly; they play and they sing divinely. The acting of the best among them is equal to that of any living man. They have become journalists, in some cases of very remarkable ability; in fact, there are thousands of women who now make their livelihood by writing in all its branches.


_Painting by W. Simpson_


There are artists of all kinds--oil painters, water-colour painters, black-and-white artists, sculptors, workers in pastel, carvers; in a word, every art that exists is practised successfully by women. As for the less common professions--the accountants, architects, actuaries, agents--they are rapidly being taken over by women.

It is no longer a question of necessity; women do not ask themselves whether they must earn their own bread, or live a life of dependence. Necessity or no necessity they demand work, with independence and personal liberty. Whether they will take upon them the duties and responsibilities of marriage, they postpone for further consideration. I believe that, although in the first eager running there are many who profess to despise marriage, the voice of nature and the instinctive yearning for love will prevail.


Personal independence: that is the keynote of the situation. Mothers no longer attempt the old control over their daughters: they would find it impossible. The girls go off by themselves on their bicycles; they go about as they please; they neither compromise themselves nor get talked about. For the first time in man’s history it is regarded as a right and proper thing to trust a girl as a boy insists upon being trusted. Out of this personal freedom will come, I daresay, a change in the old feelings of young man to maiden. He will not see in her a frail, tender plant which must be protected from cold winds; she can protect herself perfectly well. He will not see in her any longer a creature of sweet emotions and pure aspirations, coupled with a complete ignorance of the world, because she already knows all that she wants to know. Nor will he see in her a companion whose mind is a blank, and whose conversation is insipid, because she already knows as much as he knows himself. Nor, again, will he see in her a housewife whose whole time will be occupied in superintending servants or in making, brewing, confecting things with her own hand. For the young woman of the present day can make nothing: she cannot make her own dresses, she cannot trim her hat, she cannot cook, she cannot compound things delectable; the rolling-pin she knows nothing about, or the pastry-board. Love will be changed indeed. Man and woman will be of the same stature and of the same strength! I think not; there will always be the same differences in kind, but not so great in degree. The man will always look upon the world from his own point of view, the woman from hers; and these are never the same. Perhaps the greatest change is that woman now does thoroughly what before she only did as an amateur. I have said that she cannot make her own dresses. That is true, as a general rule; but the woman who can, does so professionally and thoroughly: and the woman who sews now, sews more beautifully, turning out work equal to that of her ancestress, the Anglo-Saxon lady. So, also, if a girl takes up painting, she “goes through the mill”; she studies it in earnest, she studies it as a man would. And so with everything; the shallow amateurish pretences are gone; women are thorough, women are professional.

I have spoken above of certain little affectations of sixty years ago. These have vanished. The Englishwoman of to-day enjoys an excellent appetite, and tackles her dinner valiantly; she has not yet learned to be critical over the dishes or over the wine, that will doubtless arrive. As for pretending to be hectic or consumptive she would scorn such a shallow mockery; her desire, on the other hand, is to appear strong and healthy.

There have been certain losses in this development. For instance, there has appeared among us, for the first time in the history of woman, the girl who does not care about her personal appearance. She wears uncompromising spectacles, instead of a dainty _pince-nez_, she cuts her hair short, she wears a jacket all angles; there is no roundness in her figure, there is no sweet look of Venus in her face. Now, even on the philosophic countenance of Hypatia men loved to discern that sweet and gracious look of Venus, which made her philosophy palatable and her lectures tolerable. Fortunately, this girl is as yet very scarce; generally, it is whispered, there are certain sufficient reasons for her indifference to dress; and it has even been remarked of her that, if she did not study and do her best to uglify herself, it would still be impossible, by any arrangement of hair or costume, for her to beautify herself.





“I saw the people that were therein, and how they dwelt after the manner of the Zidonians, quiet and secure, and had no dealings with any man.”--BOOK OF JUDGES.

Let us leave London, and visit a certain English country town--a market town--as it was in the year 1837. We will then consider the place as it is to-day.

In 1837 it is a quiet town with no industries except those created by the requirements of an agricultural centre. This not only causes a certain amount of activity and trade, but also gives rise to such industries as saddlery, farm implements, etc. The town consists chiefly of two or three streets running parallel, the larger and more important being the High Street. In the middle of the High Street is a square or place, where once a week is held a market, at which all kinds of things are exposed for sale, from poultry to shoe laces. A corn exchange, a branch bank, the town hall, one or two shops, and the principal inn, fill up the square. The inn boasts a large wooden porch, whose pillars are painted to resemble stone. A covered way leads to the stables and stableyard. Within, there is a hall, imperfectly lighted, in which one finds a fly-blown map of the country, a huge pike in a glass case, a stuffed otter, doors leading to the coffee-room and commercial room, a glass partition separating the bar-parlour, with the bar itself in front, and a broad, low staircase leading to the upper rooms. Here, on market day, the farmers hold their ordinary, with deep and long potations to follow. Here the lodge of Freemasons holds its monthly meetings in the winter, with a cheerful time of refreshment after labour. Here the county balls are held twice a year. There is a close, confirmed smell always lingering in the house; it suggests not so much beer and tobacco, which belong to a humbler house of entertainment, as hot brandy and water. The cold meats displayed under glass beside the bar look as if they were imbibing and assimilating that smell. If the windows were sometimes open, one feels, it would make that cold chicken fresher, and would enliven that cold roast beef. When you order dinner at this hostelry let it be of the simplest. Avoid their soup, of which they have but one kind; be careful as to their fish, which has not only travelled fifty miles by train, but has also waited longer than is good for it; but you may trust them entirely in the matter of roast beef and mutton, fowls and “birds.” As regards wine, you will avoid most carefully claret; it is a thick and strong liquid, very heavily “fortified” with brandy. No one in England, as yet, has learned what claret means; they buy it, and they pour brandy into it. Their sherry is a fiery compound, which you must regard with an uncomfortable suspicion; this also has been “treated” with brandy. In the year 1837, if you ask for champagne (which is extremely unusual) you expect a wine sweet and cloying, pink in colour, and served in long narrow glasses which make it look very pretty. In 1837 we all, even among those who have travelled, belong to the age of sweet champagne. We regard the wine, not as the exhilarator-in-chief at human banquets, but as a feminine luxury, suitable for weddings, christenings, Christmas Day, and such other family gatherings in which women take their parts. For ourselves, we shall order what is expected of us, namely stout, with our dinner,--good, thick, foaming stout,--which is without doubt the finest drink ever invented as a companion to beefsteak or to a roast leg of mutton. We shall perhaps, for the good of the house, have a pint of the fiery sherry with the admirable apple pie, seasoned with cloves, which they will presently bring us; and then, for the serious business of the evening, we shall call the landlord and consult him. Which is it to be? Does he recommend the 1820? Has he, perchance, a few bottles left of 1798, though that is almost past praying for? Does he think the 1828 sufficiently matured? Would he recommend that he should set before us some of his Tawny? These questions--these difficulties--are recognised as matters of the greatest importance. There are two of us, we are moderate men; a bottle a head is our humble limit, we must not throw away this moderation upon an inferior bottle. Finally, we yield to him. In port, this landlord, we know from former experience, hath a conscience; he brings us, not the most expensive wine, as a low-class practitioner would do, but the wine which he thinks will please us best. He carries the bottle in his own arms, as if it were a baby; he draws the cork as an actor on the stage opens a letter--with importance; he decants it as if it were liquid elixir, leaving off at the precise moment when a drop from the turbid dregs of the bottle might sully the perfect purity of the splendid purple which he calls upon you to admire, holding the decanter before the light. We take our two bottles; we sit down to dinner at six, so that when the bottles are empty it is no more than nine. We ring the bell and order brandy and water before we go to bed. We hold up the bottle to the light. It is the light of candles, not gas; no nasty, new-fangled gas is allowed in this old inn; and, indeed, those who have once used wax candles can never desire any better or softer light.

[Illustration: PRINCE ALBERT, AGE 4]

In the bedroom the furniture is simple. There is a vast four-poster, with its heavy furniture and valance and curtains. The bed is provided with feather mattresses, deep and soft and sinking, and pillows as deep. There is a washhand-stand, there are two chairs, there is a dressing-table with a looking-glass, there is a chest of drawers. There is nothing else--not a writing-table, not an easy chair; a bedroom is a place, if you please, to sleep in, not to sit in or to work in. If a guest wants to work, let him have a private room and pay for it, unless he can write in the public room.




If a bottle of port was considered a sufficient allowance of drink for a moderate man, what was it for a toper? The amount of drinking in these country inns was, in fact, incredible. Men who were considered quite temperate, as a rule, would sit drinking at a public dinner half the night through. They drank, not weak potations of whisky and Apollinaris, but strong fiery port, which they liked, as Tennyson is reported to have liked it, strong and black and sweet. Not for such drinkers as these did mine host produce his best and rarest; a more common and a ranker liquid did for them. The public dinner was rare. There was generally in the bar-parlour, however, the town toper. He was a man whose father had amassed money in trade and left his son a small fortune, enough to keep him in idleness. The small fortune proved, as usual, a danger and a pitfall; idleness led to temptation, temptation led him to the bar-parlour. We may see him sitting in the wooden armchair, where he spends all his evenings. He is close upon fifty--the toper’s limit. A tumbler of rum and water is on the table beside him. He is silent, for very good reasons. He smiles upon the company to show how sober he is. He has been drinking all day long, and is now quite full and quite drunk; yet at ten o’clock he will get up and walk home by himself without so much as a reel or a lurch. He presents to the world when he goes out into it a nose of a kind that you cannot find now, a red, even a purple nose, largely swollen, covered with red blotches; it is a nose enlarged and painted by rum.


The tradesmen of the town have their club, which meets every night, but not in the tavern; they frequent a place of lesser repute, where they are alone. They are shy of admitting strangers. It is not known how much they drink; but one hears of families where there are daughters who, on the arrival of the familiar footstep, hurry out of the way.

The town is eight miles from any other town. A stage-coach passes through every day, but there is very little done to encourage it. The oldest inhabitant has lived here, man and boy, for eighty years, but he has never seen any other town. The coach drives merrily down the High Street, with the horn blowing: the coachman pulls up at the inn, the passengers all get down and have a drink, the horses are changed, the coachman mounts, the guard blows his horn, and the excitement of the day is over. The interests of the town are wholly self-centred: it is not conscious of any other place. There were wars twenty years ago. There is a fellow, somewhere, who fought at Waterloo; but nobody asks him questions. A weekly paper, published at the nearest town, comes over on Sunday mornings and gives them news of the outer world; but, indeed, the news of the outer world drops on their ears like the murmurs of the ocean in the shell, it means nothing.

The yearly holiday has not yet reached this place. The vicar, the lawyer, the doctor, want no holiday, and take none. The schoolmaster takes his in his garden. Year after year, month after month, day after day, they do the same things in the same way, they have the same talk. As for books they have none, only a dozen or so in a row. Boys who are fond of books are regarded askance; they are dragging down upon their heads a terrible future; no money is to be made by reading books. Boys who are fond of making music, who take to a piano as other boys do to a cricket bat, are considered as in a dangerous way. It is remarkable, and is to me inexplicable, how this country, where formerly every gentleman played some instrument, came to regard music with suspicion. The fact, however, is undoubted. In the same way, a boy who could draw and paint was looked upon with mingled pity and contempt. There was a great deal of caste in the profession chosen by the boys. The vicar’s son went to Oxford or Cambridge and took orders; the lawyer’s eldest son was articled to his father; the doctor’s eldest son was articled to his father; in the principal shops the eldest son was brought up to carry on the shop. The professional people, who called themselves gentlemen, would not associate with the shopkeepers; the county people would not associate with the professional people; thus society was hedged about and kept in gradations. As regards other professions, the banks took some of the young men; one or two turned out to be clever, got scholarships, and went to the universities, there to settle down for life on a College Fellowship; necessity compelled a few into teaching, then considered the last refuge of the destitute; the boy who could draw was articled to an architect in the nearest big town; some went up to London and became clerks; here and there one or two, greatly daring, disappeared altogether beyond the seas.


As for the girls, they stayed at home. Their place was at home, they knew nothing solid in the way of book learning; but, like the London girls, they were accomplished. They could play a little and sing a little, they could do all kinds of fine work, they made all the family pies and cakes, they could distil, they could pickle and preserve, they could make and mend. They stayed at home; out of three or four, one remained unmarried. For her stretched along the road on the west of the town a row of tiny villas, each with its pretty little garden in front full of flowers--dahlias, peonies, geraniums--and the garden behind with its vegetables and its fruit trees. The unmarried one lived here, alone but not lonely. She it was who made most of the society of the place. Sometimes, when there was not enough money, she remained living with the eldest brother--a responsibility which he was never known to refuse. Religion played a great part in their lives. Most of the girls were “serious”: they attended a Thursday evening sermon, which proved it; they read books about election and the elect, which they applied serenely to other people. They were taught that all the people--outside, in the street--in the world were destined to endless torments: all but a very few, including themselves. They believed it, or said they did; and the words never caused them a shudder, a gleam of pity, a thought of remonstrance. That is what they called believing the doctrine.


_Photo by H. N. King_


The Church in 1837 is venerable, but tottering. Within there are high pews, long pews, square pews, pews with a fireplace, pews in the chancel; the organ is in the west gallery where the choir sits. In the middle there is a “three-decker” _i.e._ a pulpit, a reading-desk, and a clerk’s desk, one above the other. The original east window has been destroyed and is replaced by a modern thing. The charity children sit round the altar rails. The once open roof is squared down and plastered over, half the windows are bricked up, one aisle has been pulled down and rebuilt in brick.


_Photo by H. N. King_



_Photo by Valentine_


These ladies read little; they went nowhere. London was unknown to them, save for one short visit. They were full of prejudice. They would not visit their right-hand neighbour, because her money--not much of it--came from the drapery trade; nor their left-hand neighbour, because one must draw the line above the farmer’s daughter. They were full of little pretensions. Their papa was formerly the vicar--a gentleman and a scholar; or he was a solicitor, who, though himself sprung from a shop, was a gentleman by right of his profession; therefore his daughters refused to visit their cousins. It was truly wonderful to watch the social hedges raised everywhere.


_Photo by Mayall_




Somehow or other these hedges troubled the younger folk little. The young man came along in due course. He came to tea, he brought his flute, he stayed to supper--bread and cheese and beer, with a glass of hot brandy and water afterwards. He gazed upon one of the girls; one Sunday evening he presented her with a rose in the church porch. The vicar that evening demonstrated the impossibility of hoping to escape, but the girl with the rose in her hand sat tremulous, flushed, happy. After the sermon the young man walked home with her, the sister giving up her place and walking with the brother. The young man stayed to supper--cold lamb and a lettuce, with beer and a glass of hot brandy and water. They talked of the sermon of despair, and the text, with no escape possible. While they talked, the spring of love was welling up in the girl’s young heart--thus is the soundest theology mocked by Nature. In two or three months there followed the wedding, with the breakfast and the pink champagne.

Not every country town has experienced this decline; some few have escaped, but all have suffered more or less which depend entirely on the agricultural interest. Of one class I speak with great sympathy--the Nonconformist ministers. They were none too well paid in the most palmy days. The chapel contained perhaps a hundred and twenty members; these members paid two shillings a quarter each for his seat, or eight shillings a year. There was no endowment; the minister therefore received forty pounds a year. This was increased by voluntary gifts from the richer members of the congregation, so that the minister probably reckoned on a hundred or a hundred and twenty pounds a year for his stipend. Now, alas! there are no richer members, there are no voluntary offerings; the poor man has to keep himself and his family on forty pounds a year.


_Photo By Gunn & Stuart_



_Photo by Gunn & Stuart_


What is this country town like after all these years? There are a few changes in the buildings, but not many. The market-place, the corn exchange, the cross, the old inn, are all there. The church has been restored; the pillars have been deprived of their plaster and are once more of polished stone, the high pews are replaced by low benches, the roof is opened up, the east window is restored, other windows are in course of restoration; it is now a noble and very beautiful old church. The organ and choir have been sent to the chancel; the “three-decker” has made way for a small and richly-carved pulpit; there is light, colour, brightness in the church and its decorations, a light and colour which appear also in the service.

The other changes in the town are not so apparent. You will find, however, that the farmers’ ordinary is no longer held--the times are now too bad. Nor do gentlemen drink port all the evening; the old port is all gone. The inn is a house of call for bicyclists, who drink beer or tea; there are not so many finely appointed dog-carts driving in and out--landlords, like their tenants, are badly hit. The market is not so well attended--there are fewer rustics. The saddler especially is a melancholy man, because the agricultural depression has struck him hard--a man can go on using an old saddle for years. All the shopkeepers, however, are gloomy, their shops hardly yield them a living. The lawyer’s income has suffered grievously, so has the doctor’s; their daughters have left the town and are getting their own living by working at something or other. All the young men have gone. Everybody leaves the town who can, for it is a place of decay.

Yet is the town really brighter and better than before; far and wide its arms stretch out to its sons who have gone away. Some are ranching in Canada, some are fruit farming in California, some are practising medicine on Ocean Liners or in colonial towns, some are teaching in schools and colleges at home and in the colonies, some are labourers on farms in Manitoba or British Columbia, soon to be themselves owners of farms. The town is poorer, there are fewer people; yet, apart from money, it is a far richer place than it was, with broader minds, with fewer prejudices, and greater knowledge.





“Voices call us--whither? Ah! whither?”

It is doubtful business to ascribe new ideas to a whole people. For change of ideas is more gradual than change of manners. We may go on for a long time acting under one influence and thinking that we believe in another. But from all that has gone before, I think we may assume a change in the governing beliefs and sentiments of the nation greater than any change since the time of Queen Elizabeth, when the old faith gave way to the new and with the new faith came new courage, new arts, new enterprise, a new literature.

As to our religion, that has indeed changed. The Calvinist, the old Evangelical, lingers yet here and there, but he is comparatively rare; even in the narrower sects there has been a broadening influence at work. In the Anglican faith--the Church of England--which is apparently destined to absorb all other forms, we have agreed tacitly to talk no more about the salvation of our souls, neither to talk about it, nor to think about it; to believe ourselves to be one flock in one fold, with one shepherd. Whether this change conduces to the higher spiritual life, I cannot venture to affirm or to deny; I am no theologian. That the world has become, through this change, through the cessation of the awful question which formerly poisoned life, far, very far happier than it was, I do declare without hesitation and from my own personal knowledge and experience. There was no very high spiritual life, formerly, so far as I remember, among those who sought the hardest to limit the mercy of Heaven; they led the common life of the lower slopes, with trade in their minds and trade on their souls. There is no very high spiritual life under the changed conditions; still the common folk live the common life. Here and there among the clergy is found a Stanley; here and there among the crowd one lights upon a saint. Always there is the common life for the multitude; always there is the saintly life for the chosen few, whether the leader is St. Francis or Calvin, whether the head of the Church be the Pope, or the Archbishop of Canterbury, or John Wesley. Let us teach men and women to live well, with full consideration for each other--which is the most comprehensive virtue; the life which thinks of others is the happiest.


_Photo by Russell & Sons_



_Photo by Russell & Sons_


Another ingredient in happiness is physical comfort. We are all much better fed than we were, better housed, better clad; all along the line the standard of comfort has been advanced. The huge barracks in which the working-classes of the great cities now live are not pretty, but consider how much more comfortable they are than the old court of tumble-down cottages with a street about four feet wide. The new barracks are fully provided with water, they are kept in a sanitary condition as good as any palace of prince or peer, they are light and airy. Go into any of the old courts--there are a few still at Westminster--and see for yourselves the dirty, dilapidated dens in which the people formerly lived. Then, while you think of the advanced standard of comfort, remember the cheap bread, the cheap tea, the cheap meat, the cheap butter, cheese, bacon, eggs, fruit, which are now offered to the working-man. Not only have his wages gone up, but their purchasing power has advanced as well. If instead of eighteen shillings a week he now gets thirty, and if a shilling now could buy twice as much as a shilling sixty years ago, the standard of comfort for this man and his family has been advanced indeed.

This standard of comfort, this increase in solid happiness, has by long custom and usage become the right of the people. They consider it as much their right as any of the liberties secured by Act of Parliament. This new right constitutes a danger, because a national disaster might run food up to famine prices, and then we should see, what we have not seen for a long time, the tigerish side of the Anglo-Saxon.



_Photo by Hughes & Mullins_


We have learned that the old revolutionary cry has quite died away and is almost forgotten. This also is partly the result of the increased comfort. At the same time the advance of democratic ideas has been most marked. Slowly but surely, the whole power in the country has passed into the hands of the Commons. The dominant idea at the present moment of our people is that the country must be governed for them and by them. This would have seemed a most terrible thing sixty years ago. That we should be governed by working-men! Incredible! It is, however, the fact; we are governed by the people. Only, what the prophets did not understand, the governing power is delegated by the people to representatives, who are not, as a rule, working-men; one or two working-men are in the House and doing well. The people, however, are very chary of electing one of themselves; they prefer to send to the House as their representatives such men as John Morley and James Bryce, scholars and students, responsible persons, whom they know and can trust; they will not send demagogues and wind-bags and political adventurers. You have seen how they treat the House of Lords; so long as it gives no trouble it may remain, but only on condition that it is recruited from new families. If it were to obstruct any really popular movement--which the House will not do--we should see what would happen. Meantime, the people look abroad and judge for themselves. They observe that the great colonies are all Republics, and are doing well under republican institutions. If we were not doing well under our institutions, it is quite certain that the revolutionary cry would be heard again.




_Copyright Foster & Dickinson_



As regards work and wages, the people are firmly persuaded that they are entitled to be the dictators. They think that they have a right to exact what wages they think are fair, and to work for such hours as they think right. There have been desperate struggles, in which the employers have lost huge sums of money, while the men have suffered terrible privations. It is not for me to discuss in this place the right or the wrong of Trades Unions; it is enough to state that the working-men hold this belief, and are ready, whenever it is possible, to act upon it.


_Copyright Foster & Dickinson_



It is sometimes maintained that the British workman is a socialist; well, it is certainly true that socialism exists in his ranks; yet he is not a socialist. Out of the vague socialism which floats about everywhere are springing up ideas, not adopting the theory of universal equality of work and pay, whether to the able man or to the fool, but ideas as to the rights of labour, ideas as to the power and the share which should be allotted to Capital. That these questions should be discussed by the working-classes, whom they so closely concern, appears to me most wholesome for the State. Capital was formerly a despot; Capital took what it pleased, and tossed the workman what it pleased. Capital can do so no longer; Capital has now to reckon with a rival power, far greater than itself in strength as soon as it proves equally great in resolution. I believe so fully in the sense of justice which underlies everything in our working-man’s mind, that I do not believe that, however strong he will be, he will ignore the rights of Capital.


As to the educational and informing influences of which we have already spoken, they are only beginning to be felt. Everywhere is to be seen the working lad studying in the Free Library side by side with those who only read for amusement. The young fellow who studies is going to rise in the world; he will become an employer, or he will become a political leader. We may reckon upon seeing the House of Commons, in fifty years, filled with such popular leaders sent up by the constituents. They will not be necessarily demagogues; they will not be necessarily adventurers seeking fortune and place by politics (fortunately members of the House of Commons are unpaid, this discourages the adventurers); they will, however, be leaders of the people, sprung from the people.


_Copyright S. Hildesheimer & Co., Ltd._



Everything points, I repeat, to the advance of democratic ideas in all directions. For instance, most of the Civil Service is now open to competitive examination; the lads of the Polytechnics will get these appointments. There are some branches not yet open; these will also be thrown open. The law and medicine now require a five years’ training, at a cost of over a thousand pounds; these professions will be thrown open to the lads who can pass the examinations. It is now impossible for a poor lad to enter the army or the navy; by changes in the management and daily life of a regiment or a ship, poor lads will be enabled to win commissions.


_Photo by Hughes & Mullins_



These changes for the lads and working-men I foresee very clearly. With regard to the position of women I also foresee important changes. At the present moment there is a wild and insensate game of “grab” going on. Women admit of no restrictions, they claim everything. They are not satisfied with the whole intellectual field, they would overrun the field of physical labour. They take the men’s work at half the pay, they drive the men out of the country, they remove from themselves the possibility of marriage, they deny the country that increase of population which the country has a right to expect. This folly will presently cease; calmer and more sensible counsels will prevail. It will be recognised that Nature assigns limitations and prescribes certain kinds of work for men, and certain other kinds for women. Above all, it will be remembered that if a man owes himself to his country as a soldier or a workman, so a woman owes to her country the duties of maternity.




Such is the contrast between the English of 1837 and the English of 1897. I am not ignorant that there are still many, and great, improvements to be effected; but I hope that my readers who have followed me will acknowledge that we are not only advanced, but that we are advancing in new directions which will lead the country into paths hitherto unsuspected, or contemplated with dread. I regard these steps without anxiety; that is to say, I recognise the dangers if these lines are pushed out too far. In all human efforts there is danger; if we always thought of the danger we should effect nothing. There is weakness, unworthiness, among the best of men; yet, with my countrymen, the prospect which opens out before them is so splendid that it makes one forget the danger.

* * * * *

I would offer this book as a small tribute towards the reconciliation of the Anglo-Saxon race. It is not only with England that we have to do--not only with what Shakespeare called

This royal throne of kings, this scepter’d isle, This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars, This other Eden.

We have to do with other nations, soon to become great nations: Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, all with the same language, the same laws, the same institutions, the same literature, the same ancestors.

* * * * *

You who read these pages who are not the Queen’s subjects cannot, perhaps, fully understand the depth and the reality of that loyalty of which I have spoken--it is a personal as well as constitutional loyalty. You do, however, understand, and you will acknowledge, that there has never lived upon the earth a woman who in her lifetime has created, and has inspired, and has possessed as much affection, respect, and confidence from all parts of the world.






“O you that hold A nobler office upon earth, Than arms, or power of brain, or birth Could give the warrior kings of old.” TENNYSON.

All the national pride and the power, the love of country, the growth of Empire, the loyalty, and the kinship which has characterised the reign of Queen Victoria, was exemplified or expressed in the memorable events that marked the Sixtieth Anniversary of Her Majesty’s Accession to the Throne. To tell the story of those days of joyous enthusiasm, which culminated in the triumphal progress of the Sovereign to London’s Cathedral of St. Paul’s on 22nd June 1897, is to write the record of a time of unexampled rejoicing throughout the Empire, and of scenes of pomp and splendour in the British Capital such as perhaps the world, and certainly England, had never before witnessed.

To attempt to trace the inception of so unique and historic a celebration would be impossible. It had no discernible beginning. The spirit of loyalty to the Throne, of love and devotion towards its illustrious occupant, had grown with advancing years, keeping pace with the artistic, the material, and the moral development of the Victorian Era.

On 23rd September 1896 Her Majesty’s reign had exceeded that of any other English monarch, George III., whose fourth son, Edward Duke of Kent, was the father of the Queen, having died in the fifty-ninth year of his occupancy of the throne. It was the Queen’s expressed desire, however, that the national rejoicing which would naturally signalise so auspicious a day should be postponed until the sixtieth anniversary of her accession. As soon as the Royal wish in this regard was made known, spontaneous preparations commenced over all her vast Empire with a view to celebrating in a manner worthy the nation and the nation’s Sovereign so great and glorious a reign. Side by side with extension of Empire there had been the growth of Imperial sentiment among the masses of the English people, and of love for the mother-country on the part of her Colonial sons. The invitation to the Premiers of Australia, Canada, the Cape, New Zealand, and Newfoundland to visit England and take a personal share in the national celebration was one which consequently met with a ready and hearty response. They were to bring with them representatives of the fighting forces of the Colonies and Dependencies--of the brave fellows who were helping to maintain that Greater Britain beyond the seas--and were to come as guests of the nation. They came, and they brought with them something else more valuable than all--the desire for closer union and for a united defence. Canada, through its Premier, Mr. Laurier, unfolded a scheme of preferential tariffs for the commerce of the mother-country; and Sir Gordon Sprigg carried with him the request that Cape Colony should be permitted to contribute towards the maintenance of the Imperial Navy--proofs of practical loyalty which none could mistake.


In England and in the capital it was felt that some good work should be inaugurated which might form a lasting memorial of a memorable time, and at the right moment the Prince of Wales broached a scheme for freeing the great London hospitals from debt, and providing these voluntary institutions with a more sufficient income--a proposal that at once received support from all sections of the people.



There was yet another scheme which owed its origin to the kindly thought of a member of the Royal Family, one that awoke responsive feelings in every heart, for it was the poor of London whom the gracious Princess of Wales considered above all others. She wrote, on 29th April 1897, from Marlborough House, to the Chief Magistrate of the City, urging that “in the midst of the many schemes and preparations for the commemoration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, when everybody comes forward on behalf of some good cause,” it seemed to her “one class had been overlooked, namely, the poorest of the poor in the slums of London.” The Princess pleaded that the poor beggars and outcasts “should be provided with a dinner or substantial meal” during the week of the 22nd of June, and headed the subscription list with £100.

As the historic 22nd of June drew nearer, London put on the gayest and brightest attire. From every house-top and window floated the Union Jack, or fluttered flags and bunting, while on the line of route mapped out for the triumphal progress of the Sovereign decorations had been arranged on a scale of beauty and magnificence never equalled in the history of the capital. Wherever timber could be safely fashioned into temporary seats, there stands had been erected,--some of immense size holding as many as five thousand persons, others of towering height, some on roofs of Government offices, and some resting against sides of church steeples, or built on the few vacant spots to be found amid the bricks and mortar of an overcrowded city. For days the streets were thronged with eager sightseers from all parts of England, from Europe and America. Foreign Princes, distinguished Ambassadors, and special Envoys arrived at the invitation of the Sovereign and the Government; there is feasting and jubilation, and London for once at any rate is the gayest of gay cities.


Sunday 20th June 1897, the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Queen’s Accession to the Throne, was observed as a day of general Thanksgiving throughout the country. In the morning Her Majesty, attended by many of her children, went to St. George’s, Windsor, to return thanks in the historic chapel of the Castle for all the blessings and glories of her reign. In London the members of the House of Peers were present in their robes of scarlet and ermine in Westminster Abbey; Her Majesty’s “faithful Commons” went to the Church of St. Margaret’s, near neighbour to the Abbey; and the Judges attended St. Paul’s Cathedral, at which the Prince and Princess of Wales were also worshippers.



When Commemoration Day broke, dull and cloudy, London was already awake; and thousands were pouring in from the suburbs to take their places on the line of route, the privileged on seats and stands, the rest by the roadside. Those who had slept out in the open in St. James’s Park, anxious to be the first to greet their Sovereign on this auspicious day, saw the Royal Standard floating under the gray sky and above Buckingham Palace, where the Queen had passed the night. Soon there is life and movement behind the great gates, a passing to and fro of servants in brilliant scarlet liveries, and the coming of Royal carriages bringing the distinguished guests who are to ride in the Royal procession. The crowds grow denser under the line of trees standing out in the green perspective of the Park; as the morning wears on, although there is no sun, the heat becomes stifling and oppressive. There is the marching and counter-marching of troops to the sounds of military music, the slow approach of those “war-worn veterans,” the pensioners of Chelsea Hospital, for whom kindly forethought has provided benches within the Palace gates, and the hurrying here and there of Court functionaries and Chiefs of Police, until, just as Big Ben, in the Clock Tower of the House of Commons, chimes out the first quarter after nine, the strains of the National Anthem herald the approach of the Colonial procession. It had been so arranged that these sturdy representatives of the guardians of peace and power over-sea should be the first to reach the Cathedral, there to line the roadways, so as to be able to gaze upon the Queen’s cortege as it went by and then to fall in behind; thus not only seeing, but ultimately participating in, the Sovereign’s progress.

Cheers rend the air as, by way of the tree-shaded Mall, comes this mighty force of Empire personified, this moving column from the greatest volunteer army the world has ever seen. Men in red coats, men in blue, soldiers in the serviceable Kharki, men with glistening helmets, or with turbans, carrying guns or holding lances,--the stern Zaptiehs from Cyprus, the diminutive and yellow-skinned Dyaks from North Borneo, the troops from Hong-Kong in their curious hats sitting like mushrooms on their heads, those big-limbed fighters the Hausas and the Maoris, the handsome forms of the Australian troopers, the Cape Mounted Rifles (fit bodyguard for the Colony’s Premier), the Rhodesian Horse, whose participation in the recent troubles in South Africa secures for them a cheer of particular heartiness,--men from Natal, from Canada, from every quarter where the British flag flies and the English tongue is heard, move along between the unbroken lines of a joyous people, ready to acclaim them brothers in patriotism and loyalty as well as by blood and the ties of race.

[Illustration: MILITARY TYPES


It is a stirring scene, one which makes the pulse beat faster, and the face flush with pride and excitement. But a greater and a grander is yet to come. While these brave sons are on their way to St. Paul’s, the Queen is preparing for her historic and triumphal progress along the same gaily-decked streets, now packed with a moving mass of loyal people. There is but a short interval of increased expectancy between the passing of the Colonials and the appearance of the front of the military pageant which is to accompany Her Majesty to the steps of the Cathedral, where praise and thanksgiving are to be rendered to an Almighty God for the blessings of an unparalleled reign.



It is the British Army in miniature, at the head of which, by desire of the Prince of Wales, rides the tallest man in the service, Captain O. Ames of the Life Guards, proud of his six feet eight inches, and having as an escort four troopers of exceptional stature. Blue-jackets dragging their naval guns are followed by detachments of Cavalry regiments; and then in imposing array, in what seems to be a never-ending line, mounted men pass in review--Hussars, Dragoons, Lancers, and Horse Artillery--with bands playing and pennants flying, and high above the martial music rises the proud cheers of a people justly glorying in this spectacle of military strength.

[Illustration: MILITARY TYPES


With the appearance of the foreign suite, aides-de-camp, equerries, and gentlemen in attendance on the Royal personages, the procession gains in stateliness and colour, every nation contributing its distinctive and gorgeous uniforms, making up a moving picture of unequalled splendour as these high dignitaries, some hundreds in number, precede the first of the Royal carriages. In these latter are seated the special Envoys of Greece and Central America, Mexico and Brazil, Chang Yin Hun, the Chinese Ambassador, in handsome Eastern robes; Mr. Whitelaw Reid, the United States special Ambassador, affording a contrast amid all this magnificence by the plainness of his black coat and prosaic silk hat. Next follow the great Officers of State and yet more carriages containing Royal Princesses, the Queen’s children and her children’s children, Princesses from every Court in Europe, and the widowed daughters of Her Majesty--the Empress Frederick, whose beloved consort formed so noble a figure in the other procession ten years earlier, and Princess Henry of Battenberg, discarding for this joyous day her sombre attire and dressed in white. Sixteen carriages, all drawn by four horses, richly caparisoned and with postillions, serve to carry this noble company. Next come the Royal Princes and representatives, mounted and riding three abreast, the Duke of Fife and the Marquis of Lorne being among the first of this exalted group, which numbers forty in all, and includes in its later ranks the Prince of Naples, Prince Albert of Prussia, the Grand Duke Serge of Russia, the Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, and the Grand Duke of Hesse, all present to do honour to England’s Queen.

An escort of Indian Cavalry, richly dressed and splendidly horsed, follows, and then there is a slight break in the procession, for the seventeenth and last carriage is that containing the beloved Sovereign on whom all thoughts and hearts are centred.

Elaborate arrangements had been made so that Her Majesty, just before leaving Buckingham Palace, might send a simultaneous message to her subjects throughout the world, and these are the words, simple but sincere, which were transmitted over the private wire from the Palace to the Central Telegraph Department in St. Martins-le-Grand, thence to be flashed to the farthest corner of the British Empire:--“From my heart I thank my beloved people. May God bless them. V.R. & I.”

Let history record the fact, happy and significant as it is. During all that parade of military pomp and Royal splendour the sun had been hidden behind a haze of clouds, but at 11.15, just as a gun mounted in the Park booms the signal that the Queen is passing from under the portals of Buckingham Palace, there is a sudden burst of brilliant sunshine, which illumines that scene of inspiring grandeur and spreads itself over the carriage in which is seated Her Majesty, the Princess of Wales, and Princess Christian. Cheers burst forth from countless loyal throats, mingling with the strains of the National Anthem, as the Queen’s carriage is drawn along by eight cream-coloured horses, covered with trappings of crimson and gold, ridden by richly-apparelled postilions, and attended by grooms in gold-embroidered livery.



In front rides the Commander-in-Chief, Viscount Wolseley, his breast ablaze with decorations. On the right of the Royal carriage are the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Connaught, and on the left the veteran Duke of Cambridge, chief personal aide-de-camp to Her Majesty. In the rear is carried the Royal Standard, and following are high Court Officials, the Queen’s Colonial bodyguard, a squadron of Horse Guards, a troop of Life Guards, and a detachment of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

[Illustration: MILITARY TYPES


In Pall Mall the reception is one of exceptional loyalty and enthusiasm. “Clubland” is decorated with a richness and profusion testifying, as surely as do the shouts of welcome which greet the Royal progress, that in the ranks of wealth and fashion are to be found some of Her Majesty’s most devoted subjects. The chorus of acclamation is passed on by the crowds thronging the roadside, and is taken up by the Peers and County Councillors seated on immense stands in front of and facing the National Gallery.

At last Temple Bar, the boundary of the City, is reached, and here waits the Lord Mayor in Civic State, ready to offer fealty to his Sovereign by rendering up that famous pearl-hilted sword which Queen Elizabeth presented to the Corporation. The Royal carriage passes the Law Courts, where the learned judges and lawyers raise cries of welcome, and comes to a stand just within the City precincts, on the north side of the memorial which marks the site of the old City gates. Bowing low, with grace and deference the Chief Magistrate with both hands presents the sword. The Queen bends over the side of her carriage, lightly touches the emblem of authority, and, with a smile and softly-spoken words, once more consigns it to the Lord Mayor’s keeping. With an agility which the Queen good-humouredly remarks to the Prince of Wales, the Chief Magistrate, still wearing a long gold-embroidered robe of purple velvet, mounts his horse and, bare-headed, rides off towards the Mansion-House, sword in hand, while the people applaud approvingly.

Then the Royal procession continues on its way along Fleet Street, and thence to Ludgate Hill, with its choice decorations of bright purples and delicate greens, its hanging garlands, its laurel festoons, and its gaily-bedecked masts.

Here is the very apotheosis of all the splendour and magnificence of the day; for, as that mighty cavalcade surrounding and accompanying Queen Victoria reaches the summit of the hill, its stateliness and beauty is rivalled by such a picture of ecclesiastical pomp and circumstance, of grandeur and dignity, as was never before witnessed in connection with the rites of the Established Church. The solemn act of worship and thanksgiving is to be performed in the broad open space outside St. Paul’s, and on the steps leading to the west door of the Cathedral are grouped the highest dignitaries of the Church, in all their wealth of ornate vestments, waiting to receive the Sovereign; while gathered around are the military band and immense surpliced choir, a brilliant company of distinguished guests, including the Premier of England and the members of the Imperial Government, soldiers in brave array, and yeomen of the guard in their picturesque attire, a front line of splendid uniforms being formed by the corps of gentlemen-at-arms in their crimson cloth coats heavy with bullion adornments, their burnished helmets with nodding plumes of white, holding in hand richly-chased halberts.



From the outset of her reign the Queen showed her interest in the first line of defence of her island kingdom, and repeatedly held Royal reviews at Spithead. The most noteworthy of these were in 1856, at the close of the Crimean War, when Britain’s sea-power was displayed in 254 vessels of all sizes--the last occasion when “the wooden walls of Old England” took a prominent part; and in 1887, the Jubilee year, when it was believed that the iron bulwarks of Britain’s shores had attained their ultimate strength and power. Great as was the fleet then shown to Her Majesty’s Royal guests and her gratified people, it was weak compared with the vast array of 26th June 1897, when no fewer than a hundred and sixty vessels flew their pennants to the breeze, and in combined strength and powers, both of defence and attack, surpassed all other fleets which have ever been gathered together at any one corner of Neptune’s domain. These splendid squadrons, ready at a few days’ notice for mobilisation for active service, should need arise, are independent of the 125 vessels which constitute the British fleets in commission in all parts of the world.

[Illustration: THE NAVAL REVIEW AT SPITHEAD, JUNE 26, 1897

DISPOSITION OF THE SHIPS.--The ships were anchored, with free space to swing with the tide, in five lines, each extending to rather over five and a half sea miles. In addition to these regular lines, there were, just outside the entrance to Portsmouth Haven, flotillas of small Government craft. The first line, nearest the shore of the mainland, consisted of torpedo boats and, on its western flank, of training brigs, the latter about the only representatives of the pure sailing-ships left to our navy; the second line was composed of destroyers and gunboats; the third line, of third-class cruisers, torpedo gunboats, and gunboats; the fourth and fifth, of battleships and cruisers. A sixth line was constituted by the war-ships sent by foreign Governments in honour of the great naval event and of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; while a seventh was composed of a representative fleet of our unsurpassed mercantile marine. If the latter be numbered with the British fleet, together with pleasure steamers and yachts which sailed and steamed in and out of the lines the whole day long, it may be reckoned that there were nearly three hundred vessels in the Solent.]

It is the centre of this wondrous throng which furnishes the most striking portion of a gorgeous picture, for here at the foot of the steps stand the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, wearing dark purple copes; the Bishop of London, with a cope of salmon pink and gold, and on his head a skull-cap of cloth of gold; the Bishop of Winchester in a gown of dark velvet; the Dean of Westminster and the Canons of the Abbey attired in their coronation copes of purple velvet with gold devices; and the Dean of St. Paul’s and the Canons enveloped in scarlet copes emblazoned with the sacred monogram “I.H.S.,” surrounded by a halo of gold-embroidered tongues of fire. Here, too, is the Archimandrite of the Greek Church in more sable vestments, and a hat with black hangings descending down the back as far as the waist, a style of head-dress closely resembling that of the Archbishop Antonius of Finland. Behind the open masonry of the western portico sit hundreds of guests on rudely-constructed stands, and in the windows and on the roofs of the large business houses that encroach so near to the Cathedral are assembled thousands of eager spectators.

To this great scene of colour and animation the Queen approaches, amid the plaudits of her people, re-echoed by those assembled at the Cathedral front. A railed space is kept clear, while the one carriage containing the Sovereign passes within the enclosure to the foot of the steps, accompanied by those bearing the Royal Princes and Princesses and noble ladies in attendance.

Again the sun bursts forth in radiant beams as the National Anthem is thundered out by the military bands. A copy of the brief service, in morocco binding, is handed to the Queen, and the choir, assisted by the military bands, breaks out into that song of holy praise, “Te Deum Laudamus.” It is a setting composed for the occasion by Dr. Martin, the Cathedral organist, and the music is full of power and beauty. Subdued are the strains where the notes of praise change to those of prayer; first the male voices are heard in stately unison, and then the bright tones of the boys take up the song, but the whole vocal and instrumental strength joins in overwhelming power for the closing words, “O Lord, in Thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded.” All stand uncovered while this is sung, and Her Majesty remains seated, holding a white sunshade over her bowed head, but the Princesses by standing up in their carriages participate in this act of Royal Thanksgiving.

[Illustration: MILITARY TYPES


With united voices Dean Gregory, the Canons, and Minor Canons of St. Paul’s offer the prayer “O Lord, save our Queen,” to which the great choral force makes answer, “And mercifully hear us when we call upon Thee.” The Lord’s Prayer is recited by the Dean, and then the Bishop of London, standing immediately in front of the Sovereign, invokes the Divine favour--“O Lord, our heavenly Father, we give Thee hearty thanks for the many blessings which Thou hast bestowed upon us during the sixty years of the happy reign of our gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Victoria. We thank Thee for progress made in knowledge of Thy marvellous works, for increase of comfort given to human life, for kindlier feeling between rich and poor, for wonderful preaching of the Gospel to many nations; and we pray that these and all other Thy gifts may be long continued to us, and our Queen, to the glory of Thy Holy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”


Exactly at two o’clock the _Victoria and Albert_ slipped her moorings, and, with the Royal Standard flying, left the harbour, preceded, as an advance guard, by the Trinity yacht _Irene_. When passing the _Victory_ the band on board the latter played the National Anthem, while the boys on the old three-decker _St. Vincent_ manned the yards and cheered. The Prince of Wales’s yacht was followed by the _Carthage_, with the foreign Princes and Court functionaries; the _Enchantress_, with the Lords of the Admiralty; the _Wildfire_, with the Colonial Premiers and Mr. and Mrs. Chamberlain; the _El Dorado_, with the Ambassadors; the _Danube_, with the Members of the House of Lords; and the _Campania_, with the Members of the Commons. At ten minutes past two the Royal Squadron reached Spithead, and there came out of the lace of gray mist a symphony of explosions. The salute of the fleet to His Royal Highness had begun. It seemed as if there were a roll of Titanic drums, and then a sharp crack, which pierced the ear. Smoke curled up in wreaths from the ships’ sides and drifted away to leeward in curious streaks. Anon it belched from the snake-heads of the smaller guns in circles which floated high in the silver sky. It was the finest thing in the way of a tattoo human ear has probably ever heard, except perhaps the awful salvos of heaven’s artillery. Only the thin refrain of the cheering of the tars, who lined the bulwarks of the battleships, could be heard as the Royal Squadron passed along the waterway between the international fleet and the big British battleships and cruisers. A quarter of an hour later the Royal Squadron turned into the waterway between the battleships, torpedo gunboats, and again came the diapason, weird in its strangely regular irregularity. Folds of white smoke curled and slid up from the sides of the great ships, and the even gray sky overhead began to warp into folds, with just here and there a little glimpse of blue out of the fleecy smoke, bearing with it a gleam of sunshine from a broken cloud overhead.]

An awe-inspiring silence falls over that vast throng as the Archbishop of Canterbury, with hand uplifted and head uncovered, pronounces the Benediction, while the Sovereign, to whom all hearts go out in love and sympathy, bows her venerable head.

Few have remained unmoved spectators of that solemn and impressive scene; but every man turns pale with emotion, and the eyes of the women fill with tears when Dr. Martin, having turned to the mighty numbers which occupy the surrounding buildings, has raised his baton, the signal has been understood, and the populace has risen in one great body to join with the crowned heads, the princes, the statesmen, the bishops, and all the noble and brilliant assembly fronting the Cathedral, in voicing the music of the Old Hundredth.

Little wonder that the beloved Sovereign, seated there in her half-mourning attire in the midst of all that throng of dazzling colour, is overcome with the might and the power of that final outburst of praise and thanksgiving. The tears fall fast down that kindly face, and the hands are seen to tremble.

But there is a greater and a grander scene yet to come. A hush as of death, which succeeds the “Amen” of the grand old hymn, is broken by a cry which at once changes thoughts of worship into shouts of almost frenzied loyalty. “Three Cheers for the Queen.” Whose voice utters this welcome summons?--welcome to feelings bursting for expression, welcome to hearts throbbing in the throat with half-hysterical excitement. Some say it was the Archbishop of Canterbury (Dr. Temple) who gave the call, others that the voice came from the group of foreign princes.

Whoever it was, the word is obeyed with electric power. Stately bishops wave their caps in air, soldiers raise their swords on high, flags and handkerchiefs flutter from the surrounding houses, and with one mighty voice “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!” is hurled forth by the great throng.

And what of the Queen, the gracious lady, the centre of all this overwhelming enthusiasm. Her face is pale, but radiant; and, although the tears course down her cheeks, there is a look of inexpressible pride and thankfulness in the Sovereign’s eyes. Her eldest son comes forward to whisper--words maybe of comfort and courage--to his beloved mother, and the Duke of Cambridge also draws nearer to Her Majesty.

“God Save the Queen” is given out by the massed bands and voices, and all the people join in singing. Then there is more joyous cheering, and then the end of the ceremony, so grand and impressive, so heart-stirring, and so wonderful that those who witnessed it are for the moment dazed by its overwhelming effects.

Once more there is movement in the procession, for the Queen has yet to meet countless thousands of her people; and with remarkable precision the great cortege sets out on its way, to the accompaniment of the music of instruments and that grander music, the plaudits of a happy and contented people. The Sovereign is driven through the City, and past the Mansion-House, where the Lord Mayor has already arrived, and where the Lady Mayoress briefly welcomes the Queen and hands her a bouquet of mauve and white orchids in a silver basket. The procession proceeds over the river by way of London Bridge, through the ancient borough of Southwark, the High Street, the Borough Road, and Westminster Bridge Road, over the Thames again, and then under the shadow of the Houses of Parliament, where the “faithful Commons” are assembled on a stand of immense construction, along Parliament Street, across the Horse Guards’ Parade, where, as throughout the whole route, space is kept for the procession by a thin red line of military, ’neath the welcome shade of Mall’s avenue of trees, to the massive entrance gates of Buckingham Palace.


Following is the order of that portion of the Procession known as the “Queen’s Procession”:--

_First Carriage_ (_Pair of Horses_).

Señor Don Demetrio Iglesias, Costa Rica; Herr von Brauer, Baden; M. Ramon Subercasseaux, Chile; and M. Ran Gabé, Greece.

_Second Carriage_ (_Pair_).

M. E. Machain, Paraguay; Señor Canevaro, Peru; M. M. Mijatovitch, Servia; and M. Medina, Central America.

_Third Carriage_ (_Pair_).

Don Antonio Mier y Celis, Mexico; Dr. Alberto Nin, Uruguay; Dr. Cruz, Guatemala; and M. de Souza Correa, Brazil.

_Fourth Carriage_ (_Pair_).

His Excellency Chang Yin Hun, Chinese Ambassador, H.S.H. The Prince Charles de Ligne, Belgian Ambassador Extraordinary; Count van Lynden, Netherlands; and Monsignor Sambucetti (_Papal Envoy_).

_Fifth Carriage_ (_Pair_).

His Excellency Hon. Whitelaw Reid, United States Special Ambassador; Duke of Sotomayor, Spanish Special Ambassador; and General Davout, Duc d’Auerstadt, French Ambassador Extraordinary.

_Sixth Carriage_ (_Pair_).

Lady Suffield, Lady-in-Waiting to H.R.H. The Princess of Wales; Count Seckendorff, Chamberlain to H.I.M. The Empress Frederick; Lord Colville of Culross, K.T., G.C.V.O., Chamberlain to H.R.H. The Princess of Wales; and Earl of Kintore, G.C.M.G., Lord-in-Waiting to the Queen.

_Seventh Carriage_ (_Pair_)

Earl of Lathom, G.C.B., Lord Chamberlain; Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery, G.C.V.O., Lord Steward; Princess Hatzfeldt-Trachenberg, Mistress of the Robes to H.I.M. the Empress Frederick; and Dowager Lady Churchill, Lady of the Bedchamber.

_Eighth Carriage_ (_Pair_)

Duchess of Buccleuch, Mistress of the Robes; Princess Ena of Battenberg; Princess Alice of Battenberg, and Princess Alice of Albany.

_Ninth Carriage_ (_Pair_)

Prince Alexander of Battenberg; Princess Feodore of Saxe-Meiningen; Princess Victoria of Schleswig-Holstein; Prince Arthur of Connaught; and Princess Victoria Patricia of Connaught.

_Tenth Carriage_ (_Pair_)

Duke of Albany; Princess Aribert of Anhalt; Princess Louis of Battenberg; Princess Margaret of Connaught; and Princess Beatrice of Coburg.

_Eleventh Carriage_ (_Pair_)

Princess Adolph of Schaumburg-Lippe; Princess Frederick Charles of Hesse; and Hereditary Princess of Saxe-Meiningen.

_Twelfth Carriage_ (_Four Horses_)

Princess of Bulgaria; Duchess of Teck; Princess Frederica of Hanover; and Princess Charles of Denmark.

_Thirteenth Carriage_ (_Four_)

Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; Princess Henry of Prussia; Duchess of York; Princess Victoria of Wales.

_Fourteenth Carriage_ (_Four_)

Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; Grand Duchess of Hesse; Grand Duchess Serge of Russia; and Princess Louise (Duchess of Fife).

_Fifteenth Carriage_ (_Four_)

Duchess of Albany; Duchess of Connaught; Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; Princess Henry of Battenberg.

_Sixteenth Carriage_ (_Four Black Horses_)

Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne; Princess of Naples; and H.I.M. the Empress Frederick of Germany.

Col. Hon. H. W. J. Byng, C.B.

Lieut. F. E. G. Ponsonby.

Escort of Indian Cavalry.

F.M. Viscount Wolseley, K.P., G.C.B., G.C.M.G., Commander-in-Chief.


accompanied by H.R.H. THE PRINCESS OF WALES AND H.R.H. THE PRINCESS CHRISTIAN OF SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN, in a State Carriage drawn by Eight Cream-coloured Horses.


H.R.H. THE DUKE OF CONNAUGHT, General Officer Commanding the Troops.


Capt. of Escort.

The Standard.

Field Officer of Escort.

Chief of the Staff, Major-General Lord Methuen, C.B., C.M.G.

Earl of Coventry, Master of the Buckhounds.

Marquis of Lothian, K.T., Gold Stick of Scotland.

General Earl Howe, G.C.B., Gold Stick in Waiting.

Duke of Portland, G.C.V.O., Master of the Horse.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. J. Bigge, K.C.B., C.M.G., Equerry to the Queen and Private Secretary.

Lieut.-Colonel Right Hon. Sir F. I. Edwards, K.C.B., Keeper of the Purse and Extra Equerry to the Queen.

Lieut.-Colonel A. Davidson, M.V.O., Equerry in Waiting.

Major-General Sir J. C. McNeill, V.C., K.C.M.G., Equerry in Waiting.

Major-General Sir H. P. Ewart, K.C.B., Crown Equerry.

Major d’Albuquerque, Personal A.D.C. to H.R.H. Duke of Oporto.

Lieutenant de Mellos, Personal A.D.C. to H.R.H. Duke of Oporto.

Colonel Duval Telles, A.D.C. to H.M. King of Portugal.

A.D.C. to the French Special Ambassador.

A.D.C. to the French Special Ambassador.

A.D.C. to the French Special Ambassador.

A.D.C. to H.R.H. Prince Henry of Prussia.

A.D.C. to H.R.H. Prince Henry of Prussia.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir J. E. Commerell, G.C.B., V.C., Groom-in-Waiting to the Queen, in attendance on H.R.H. Prince Henry of Prussia.

Captain Evers, in attendance on H.R.H. Prince Waldemar of Denmark.

Captain G. L. Holford, C.I.E., Equerry to H.R.H. Prince of Wales, in attendance on H.R.H. Prince Eugene of Sweden and Norway.

Maj.-Gen. A. Ellis, C.S.I., Equerry to H.R.H. Prince of Wales, in attendance on Prince Waldemar of Denmark.

Colonel Sir Nigel Kingscote, K.C.B., Extra Equerry to H.R.H. Prince of Wales.

Captain Hon. A. Greville, Extra Equerry to H.R.H. Prince of Wales, in attendance on the Duke of Sotomayor, Special Ambassador of Spain.

Colonel Lord Wantage, K.C.B., V.C., Extra Equerry to H.R.H. Prince of Wales.

General Sir H. Lynedoch Gardiner, K.C.V.O., Groom-in-Waiting and Extra Equerry to the Queen, in attendance on H.R.H. Prince Rupert of Bavaria.

H.E. Herr von Schon, in attendance on H.R.H. Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha.

General Sir Dighton Probyn, G.C.V.O., K.C.B., K.C.S.I., V.C., Comptroller and Treasurer to H.R.H. Prince of Wales.

Major Cavaliere Viganoni, A.D.C., in attendance on H.R.H. Crown Prince of Italy.

Lieut.-General Terzaghi, First A.D.C., in attendance on H.R.H. Crown Prince of Italy.

Captain Cavaliere Merli Miglietti, A.D.C., in attendance on H.R.H. Crown Prince of Italy.

Baron von Hotwitz, in attendance on H.H. the Prince and H.R.H. Princess Frederick Charles of Hesse.

His Excellency Count Otto Traun, in attendance on H.I. and R.H. Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria.

Baron von Roeder, in attendance on H.R.H. Princess of Saxe-Meiningen.

Earl of Gosford, K.P., Lord-in-Waiting to H.R.H. Prince of Wales.

Lord Harris, G.C.I.E., Lord-in-Waiting to the Queen, in attendance on H.I.M. Empress Frederick.

Earl of Clarendon, Lord-in-Waiting to the Queen, in attendance on T.R.H. Crown Prince and Princess of Italy.




It is calculated that considerably over a million persons saw the Royal procession, but so admirable was the conduct and the temper of the vast multitude that the accidents along the six miles of route were comparatively insignificant, and no loss of life was recorded.

At night the Queen gave a State Banquet to her royal and distinguished guests at Buckingham Palace. London was brilliantly illuminated with gas and electric devices, and on all the highest eminences of England bonfires were lighted, forming a ring of fire round the coast. More than a hundred of these joyous beacons could be counted from the Malvern heights, and some seventy blazed on the heights discernible from the top of the Crystal Palace.


On Wednesday, 23rd June, Her Majesty, none the worse for the fatigue of that never-to-be-forgotten day, received the Lord Chancellor and the Peers, the Speaker and the Members of the House of Commons, at Buckingham Palace, where they presented loyal and dutiful addresses. Subsequently the Queen journeyed to Windsor, and on her way received 10,000 school children in St. James’s Park. At night the streets and buildings were again illuminated, and by Royal Command a gala performance was given at the Opera House, Covent Garden, attended by the Prince and Princess of Wales, the foreign Princes and Princesses, and all the special Envoys.

There were yet other interesting events to be crowded into these times of national rejoicing. On the following day, the 24th, 300,000 of the poorest in London were fed; and the Princess of Wales, accompanied by the Prince and two of her daughters, visited many of the dining-halls, drank to the health of the old people, and spoke kindly words.

If the Tuesday of the week of Diamond Jubilee, with its gorgeous pageant through the streets of London, gave proof of military power and Imperial greatness, the Naval Review on the Saturday, when the Prince of Wales, on behalf of the Queen, passed down lines of battleships moored a length of 25 miles, afforded significant evidence of unparalleled naval strength. In the quiet waters of the Solent rode at anchor these maritime leviathans in five columns, each nearly five miles long, every battleship decorated with brilliant bunting and manned by England’s Blue-jackets,--ironclads, torpedo vessels, cruisers, gunboats, and torpedo-boat destroyers, sea-engines of destruction of every kind were there, and yet that immense collection of British war-vessels formed but a portion of the Queen’s Navy scattered over the waters of the globe. Foreign nations sent a brave array of battleships in honour of the occasion, thousands of spectators crowded steamers in the waterway between the southern coast and the Isle of Wight, while the shores were black with sightseers.



_Copyright by J. Thompson_


At about two o’clock in the afternoon the Prince of Wales, wearing the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet, accompanied by his brother, the Duke of Saxe-Coburg, and his son, the Duke of York, passed out of Portsmouth Harbour on the Royal yacht, _Victoria and Albert_. At the same moment the signal was given to “man ship” and fire a Royal salute. The first to obey the order is the flagship _Renown_, carrying the pennant of Fleet-Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon, in supreme command; then follow in turn all the guns of that mighty fleet, until the booming of ordnance sounds like the roaring of many thunders. Ships bearing foreign Princes, Colonial Premiers, and Ambassadors proceed in the wake of the Royal yacht, which, as it passes each vessel of the Fleet, is cheered by officers and men, hat in hand. When the Prince of Wales had completed his inspection of those unbroken lines, one mighty and overpowering Hurrah! is given by all on a signal from the Renown. Although later in the day a tropical thunderstorm broke over that “Nineteenth-Century Armada,” and the weather continued unpropitious, at night every ship was outlined with incandescent lamps, the shape of each man-o’-war being plainly shown by the electric glow. As the Royal yacht slowly passed to her anchorage, half-way down the line of battleships, the sun blinked with a golden glitter, and the breeze from the west stretched every pennant and flag. The play of colour was like that of an old English garden in the first blush of summer, of the African veldt after rain, or the swaying rainbow sheen of the flower-strewn grasses and uplands of Australia. Then came once more that strangely joyous clapping of hands or the guns from the phanto-ships in unison with hearts beating with gratified loyalty on the long line of vessels on the outer verge. The Prince of Wales held a reception on board the _Victoria and Albert_ of all the flag officers of the fleet and the officers representing the foreign fleets. While this function was going on, the _Dunera_ weighed anchor to make around the fleet. The sun shone with brilliancy, and the dancing pale green waves mocked the happy hearts of a proud people. At no period of the long day did the magnificent lines of the vessels stand out with such vivid and coloured brilliancy. The low mainland, dressed in its nearest front with shapely woods, formed a nice background to the sun-glinted funnels and hulls of the ships.

To complete as far as possible this brief record of national rejoicing, mention must be made of the Queen’s visit to Kensington, the place of her birth, and of the garden party given on the same day, 28th June 1897, at Buckingham Palace. Seated at the entrance to a marquee erected on the lawn, the Sovereign received her guests, the Princes and Princesses from European and Eastern Courts and the flower of the English nobility. It was a brilliant gathering, forming a fitting conclusion to that panorama of scenes of splendour and beauty which the capital of the Empire had contributed in celebration of sixty years of a beneficent and illustrious reign.

[Illustration: LONG MAY SHE REIGN]

_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, LIMITED, _Edinburgh_

Transcriber’s Notes

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; occasional unbalanced quotation marks retained.

Ambiguous hyphens at the ends of lines were retained; occurrences of inconsistent hyphenation have not been changed.

Table of Contents added by Transcriber and placed into the Public Domain.

Illustrations without captions are decorative headpieces and tailpieces.