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tutions: history again has exercised a peculiar influence on the personal position of the monarch in the state. Our modern constitutional writers have attempted to define the attributes of the Sovereign as if he were a mere automatic part of the state machine; they tell us what he may or may not do with reference to Parliament or his ministers; they altogether decline to consider him in the capacity of a man. This might be well enough if a King of England resembled in character the President of the United States. But the case is far otherwise. The President is the elect of the nation. He holds his power-more extended in its own sphere than that of an English monarch-for a limited term. He is the representative of a party majority, which has invested him with authority as the man best qualified to embody the designs which it desires to accomplish, and to this majority he is therefore bound as an individual by all the ties of gratitude and honour. Raised to his exalted post by the will of the people, he has no ideas of inherited majesty derived from the past, nor by the nature of things can he look forward to a future, which must be decided by some incalculable wave of public opinion. He is therefore to all intents and purposes the mere delegate of a party, and even when the nice balance of opinion makes his individual force more perceptibly felt, he is unable on all occasions to act as the impartial representative of justice and reason. Of this the latest veto of Mr. Hayes, a president of marked fairness and ability, furnishes an apt illustration.
Very different is the position of the English sovereign. He occupies the throne of his country by hereditary right. He holds on trust the authority which the law of the land from time immemorial has assigned to the wearer of the crown. In his veins runs the royal blood of England, derived from the first Norman Conquerors and blended with that of the older Saxon kings; and the events of English history, in which his subjects feel that through the actions of their fathers they have a collective interest, have for him, through his kingly ancestry, a direct personal meaning. To suppose that, under such circumstances, a King of England, however feeble in character, can ever be reduced to a cipher, is to ignore the plainest teaching of nature and experience. The character of the king and the view which he takes of his legal duties, are forces in politics with which all statesmen are perfectly aware that they have to deal. Even a monarch so indolent and voluptuous as George IV. had strong convictions, derived from family and education, as to the obligations personally imposed on him by his Coronation Oath. It may be doubted whether Catholic Emancipation
Emancipation could have been secured without some severe dislocation of the Constitution, if it had not been for the ascendency which the Duke of Wellington possessed over the mind of the King; and the writers who discourse so glibly on the impersonal nature of the English monarchy might find reason to modify their opinions, if they would take the trouble to consult the Duke's papers from 1827 to 1829.
Whether the royal influence will be exercised for good or evil, must of course depend on the disposition of the King. Few of the old Kings of England can be called tyrants. From Elizabeth downwards we find plenty of instances of unconstitutional conduct on the part of our monarchs, but little or nothing that can be construed as attempts to govern altogether despotically. Such designs as they have exhibited to exert their prerogative, either beyond what the law allows or circumstances justify, have generally originated in some conscientious convictions as to their royal duties. Neither Charles I. nor George III. desired anything but the good of their subjects; the misfortunes of the former, and the political errors of the latter, arose from their imperfect conception of facts, and from their consequent attempt to make the laws of nature subordinate to their own personal will. But assuming a good disposition on the part of the monarch, and a comprehensive knowledge of his own and his subjects' circumstances, there can be no doubt that his position will enable him actively to employ his talents with the greatest advantage to his country and mankind.
The life of the Prince Consort was a constant illustration of the truth of this principle. Nothing strikes us so much in reading his biography as his complete unselfishness. 'UnEnglish' as he was called-an epithet which derives a certain colour of truth from the German cast of his thought and expression his devotion to his adopted country was complete. His conception of the unity of interest that binds together the People and the Throne is vividly expressed in his speech at Salford on uncovering the Queen's statue. On that occasion he expressed his belief that the inhabitants of the town would find in the contemplation of the statue 'an assurance that where loyalty and attachment to the Sovereign, as the representative of the institutions of the country, are linked to an ardent love of progress, founded upon self-reliance and self-improvement, a country cannot fail to prosper, under favour of the Almighty.'
These words may be said to be the key-note of all his public conduct. Nor can there be any doubt as to the truth of the political principle they embody. The master passion of Englishmen is Liberty. We are so conscious of the glory
which our freedom has obtained for us, and of the advantages it bestows, that we are inclined to regard it as an end in itself. Our system of party government appears to us a piece of state mechanism miraculously contrived for wise and progressive legislation. Many of us are proud of the multiplicity of our sects, as evidence of the vigour and variety of our religious life. In art we encourage individuality before all things as the great sign of genius and invention. All this love of freedom is an undoubted mark of health, so long as it is recognized that it springs from a divine origin, and is directed to a social end. To remind us of this truth, we require some external symbol to represent the permanence and unity of our national life, and to raise our thoughts above the mere material interests which surround us. Where is such a symbol to be found? It can scarcely be found in Parliament, for that is the great arena of party conflict, and succeeding Parliaments mark the alternate victory of conflicting principles. Still less can it be found in the periodical press, which claims to express nothing but the fleeting impression of the moment. It must be looked for, if anywhere, in that part of the Constitution which is said never to die, which, according to the old maxims, is the source of law, and which is universally acknowledged to be the fountain of honour.
The Prince Consort made it his constant endeavour to render this ideal a living reality. All his words and actions show that he thought a constitutional king ought to be the image of whatever was noble and generous in the mind of the nation he was appointed to govern. He knew that the beneficent influence of the Crown could penetrate into the most secret recesses of the people's life. Himself a devoted husband and father, he realized with a profound sympathy the wretchedness which often undermines the foundations of the family among the poorer classes of the Queen's subjects. We do not wonder that Her Majesty should have found something peculiarly touching in the sympathy of the ballast-heavers of the port of London conveyed to her in a memorial after the Prince's death, and expressed with the eloquence of simple feeling :—
'Before he came to our rescue, we could only get work through a body of river-side publicans and middlemen, who made us drink before they would give us a job, made us drink while at it, and kept us waiting for our wages and drinking after we had done our work, so that we could only take half our wages home to our families, and that half often reached them, too, through a drunkard's hands. The consequence was that we were in a pitiable state; this truck-drinking system was ruining us, body and soul, and our families too.
'Your Majesty, we tried hard to get out of this accursed system; we appealed to men of all classes, and opened an office ourselves; but we got no real help till we sent an appeal to your late Royal Consort on his election to the Mastership of the Trinity House. He at once listened to us. Your Majesty, he loved the wife of his own bosom, and he loved the children of his love; he could put himself down from the throne he shared to the wretched home of us poor men, and could feel what we and our wives and children were suffering from the terrible truck-drinking system that had dragged us into the mire. He enquired himself into the evils that oppressed us; he resolved that, if he could release us from our bonds, he would; he saw the President of the Board of Trade (the Right Hon. E. Cardwell) about us, and with his counsel a clause was put into the Merchant Shipping Act, 1853, which placed us under the control of the Corporation of the Trinity House. At once our wrongs were redressed, and the system that had ruined us swept away.'
In the great question of National Education the Prince made himself the representative of that patriotic view, which was embodied in the intention of the measure of 1870, and which we trust may yet prevail against the narrow bigotry of the Birmingham secularists. It was admitted on all hands that the education of the children of the poor was a problem pressing for solution. But the theological and economical difficulties which stood in the way of practical action were immense, and though all parties, after the manner of Englishmen, were disposed for a compromise, it was peculiarly important to give the first impulse to the movement from some quarter which should be free from all suspicion of partiality. Under these circumstances men's minds turned instinctively to the natural representative of the Crown. Raised by his position alike above sectarian jealousy and economical pettiness, the Prince Consort fixed his view on the single point of the public interest, and, in presiding at the Conference on National Education (1857), he said, in allusion to the conflicting schemes advocated by the several parties in the state :
'If these differences were to have been discussed here to-day, I should not have been able to respond to your invitation to take the chair, as I should have thought it inconsistent with the position which I occupy, and with the duty which I owe to the Queen and the country at large. I see those here before me, who have taken a leading part in these important discussions, and I am happy to meet them on a neutral ground; happy to find that there is a neutral ground upon which their varied talents and abilities can be brought to bear in communion upon a common object; and proud and grateful to them, that they should have allowed me to preside over them for the purpose of working together in the common vineyard.'
The same elevated ideas animated all the Prince's endeavours to promote in the nation the knowledge of Art. He was as far as possible from sympathizing with the views of that numerous school which holds in the present day that art should be followed as an end in itself, a principle which inevitably leads to a sacrifice of greatness and beauty, to mere novelty and ingenuity. Whether or not the impulse which he gave to the cultivation of art has followed the direction he would have counselledwhether or not Mr. Martin is right in thinking that people are less at the mercy of the caprices of individual liking, or the fantastic theories of the votaries of new schools,'-there can be no doubt that the Prince wished to make Art a means of ennobling the national character :—
'In what he did,' writes Mr. Martin, 'to call the attention of the people to Art, as a means of education, his great endeavour was to engage their interest in it, not merely for purposes of amusement, but in its relations to the history of the nations and the periods where its best illustrations were to be found, and to the handicrafts and manufactures which it had been and might be employed to elevate and improve.'
By these few examples we may illustrate the idea, which the Prince evidently entertained, as to the influence which the Crown can justly exercise on the internal economy of the nation. He wished to make it the central ground on which all the opposing energies of a free people might consent to unite, laying aside, for the sake of a common interest, their individual differences. Yet he knew perfectly well that it is the duty of the monarch, as the head of a self-governed people, to stand aloof from party struggles, even though he see clearly the selfish aims that must of necessity largely determine the course of party government. Here is his view of the state of parties at the time of the introduction of the first Conservative Reform Bill (1859)::
'A Radical Reform Bill of a Conservative ministry is denounced as not Radical enough by the Liberal party (who want no Reform, and are especially afraid of a Radical one), headed by Lord John, whom they will not have for a leader. . . . I am thoroughly disgusted, and yet I have just completed for the Princess Royal a treatise on the advantages of a constitutional government. It is dealt with here just at this moment with an utter absence of moral principle, and our statesmen even regard moral principle as not at all necessary on their part, because, owing to the good sense of the country, and the general loyalty, contentment, and prosperity, the consequences of the want of it are not immediately felt.'
The beneficial use which the Sovereign may personally make