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Queen And Empire

What should they know of England who only England know?

The England of Queen Elizabeth was the England of Shakespeare:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise;
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war;
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

In Tennyson's Princess we find an echo of these words, where the
poet, in contrasting England and France, monarchy and republic--much
to the disadvantage of the latter--says:

God bless the narrow sea which keeps her off,
And keeps our Britain, whole within herself,
A nation yet, the rulers and the ruled.

But at a later date, in an "Epilogue to the Queen," at the close of
the Idylls of the King, Tennyson has said farewell to his narrow
insular views, and speaks of

Our ocean-empire with her boundless homes
For ever-broadening England, and her throne
In our vast Orient, and one isle, one isle,
That knows not her own greatness: if she knows
And dreads it we are fall'n.

He had come to recognize the necessity for guarding and maintaining
the Empire, with all its greatness and all its burdens, as part of
this country's destiny.

It is a little difficult to realize that the British Empire, as we
now know it, has been created within only the last hundred years.
Beaconsfield, in his novel Contarini Fleming, describes the
difference between ancient and modern colonies. "A modern colony,"
he says, "is a commercial enterprise, an ancient colony was a
political sentiment." In other words, colonies were a matter of
'cash' to modern nations, such as the Spaniards: in the time of the
ancients there was a close tie, a feeling of kinship, and the colonist
was not looked upon with considerable contempt and dislike by the
Mother Country.

Beaconsfield believed that there would come a time, and that not far
distant, when men would change their ideas. "I believe that a great
revolution is at hand in our system of colonization, and that Europe
will soon recur to the principles of the ancient polity."

This feeling of pride in the growth and expansion of our great
over-seas dominions is comparatively new, and there was a time when
British ministers seriously proposed separation, from what they
considered to be a useless burden.

The ignorance of all that concerned the colonies in the early years
of Victoria's reign was extraordinary, and this accounted, to a great
extent, for the indifference with which the English people regarded
the prospect of drifting apart.

Lord Beaconsfield was a true prophet, for this indifference is now
a thing of the past, and in the year 1875 an Imperial Federation
League was formed, which, together with the celebrations at the
Jubilees in 1887 and 1897, helped to knit this country and the
Dominions together in bonds of friendship and sympathy. The rapid
improvements in communication have brought the different parts of
the Empire closer together; the Imperial Penny Postage and an
all-British cable route to Australia have kept us in constant touch
with our kinsmen in every part of the world where the Union Jack is

But this did not all come about in a day. Prejudice and dislike are
difficult to conquer, and it was chiefly owing to the efforts of Lord
Beaconsfield that they were eventually overcome.

Imperialism too often means 'Jingoism,'--wild waving of flags and
chanting of such melodies as:

We don't want to fight,
But, by Jingo, if we do,
We've got the ships, we've got the men,
We've got the money too.

The true Imperialism is "defence, not defiance." Beaconsfield looked
back into the past and sought to "resume the thread of our ancient
empire." For him empire meant no easy burden but a solemn duty, a
knitting together of all the varied races and religions in one common
cause. "Peace with honour" was his and England's watchword. He
believed, in fact, like Shakespeare, in saying

Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in,
Bear't, that th' opposed may beware of thee.

He was very particular on the duty of "if necessary, saying rough
things kindly, and not kind things roughly," which was a lesson Lord
Palmerston never seemed to be capable of learning. Another of his
maxims was that it was wiser from every point of view to treat
semi-barbarous nations with due respect for their customs and
feelings. He preached Confederation and not Annexation. "By pursuing
the policy of Confederation," he declared, "we bind states together,
we consolidate their resources, and we enable them to establish a
strong frontier, that is the best security against annexation."

His whole policy was to foster the growth of independence and build
the foundations of a peace which should be enduring. "Both in the
East and in the West our object is to have prosperous, happy, and
contented neighbours."

The object of his imperialism was to progress, at the same time paying
due respect to the traditions of the past; he rightly believed that
the character of a nation, like that of an individual, is
strengthened by responsibility.

"The glory of the Empire and the prosperity of the people" was what
he hoped to achieve.

During the anxious times of the Indian Mutiny he alone seemed to grasp
the real meaning of this sudden uprising of alien races. He declared
that it was a revolt and not a mutiny; a revolt against the English
because of their lack of respect for ancient rights and customs.

After the war was ended he declared that the Government ought to tell
the people of India "that the relation between them and their real
ruler and sovereign, Queen Victoria, shall be drawn nearer." This
should be done "in the Queen's name and with the Queen's authority."
He appealed to the whole Indian nation by his 'Royal Titles Bill,'
by means of which the Queen received the title of Empress of India.
This brought home to the minds and imaginations of the native races
the real meaning and grandeur of the Empire of which they were now
a part. The great Queen was now their Empress, or, to use the Indian
title, 'Kaiser-i-Hind.'

The Queen took the deepest interest in the Proclamation to the Indian
people in 1858, and insisted on a number of alterations before she
would allow it to be passed as satisfactory. She wrote to Lord Derby
asking him to remember that "it is a female sovereign who speaks to
more than a hundred millions of Eastern people on assuming the direct
government over them after a bloody, civil war, giving them pledges
which her future reign is to redeem, and explaining the principles
of her government. Such a document should breathe feelings of
generosity, benevolence, and religious feeling, pointing out the
privileges which the Indians will receive in being placed on an
equality with the subjects of the British Crown, and the prosperity
following in the train of civilization."

Direct mention was to be made of the introduction of railways, canals,
and telegraphs, with an assurance that such works would be the cause
of general welfare to the Indian people. In conclusion she added:
"Her Majesty wishes expression to be given to her feelings of horror
and regret at the results of this bloody civil war, and of pleasure
and gratitude to God at its approaching end, and Her Majesty thinks
the Proclamation should terminate by an invocation to Providence for
its blessing on a great work for a great and good end."

The amended Proclamation was read in every province in India and met
everywhere with cordial approval by princes and natives alike. The
feeling of loyalty was aroused by the Queen's assurance that "in your
prosperity is our strength, in your contentment our security, and
in your gratitude our best reward."

On May 1, 1859, in England, and on July 28, 1859, in India, there
was a general thanksgiving for the restoration of peace.

Although the Queen was never able to visit India in person, in 1875
the Prince of Wales went, at her request, to mark her appreciation
of the loyalty of the native princes. The welcome given to the future
King of England was truly royal. Reviews, banquets, illuminations,
state dinners followed one another in rapid succession. Benares, the
sacred city of the Hindoos, was visited, and here the Prince
witnessed a great procession which included large numbers of
elephants and camels, and an illumination of the entire river and

At Delhi, the capital of the Great Mogul, the Prince was met by Lord
Napier of Magdala at the head of fifteen thousand troops, and at
Lucknow an address and a crown set with jewels were presented to him.

J.T. Baker
Photo W.A. Mansell & Co.]

It was in the same year that Disraeli, on behalf of the British
Government, purchased a very large number of shares in the Suez Canal,
thus gaining for us a hand in its administration--a vitally important
matter when one realizes how much closer India has been brought by
this saving in time over the long voyage round the Cape.

To pass in review the growth and expansion of the Empire during the
Queen's reign would be a difficult task, and an impossible one within
the limits of a small volume. The expressions of loyalty and devotion
from the representatives of the great over-seas dominions on the
occasion of the Queen's Jubilee in 1887 were proof enough that
England and the English were no longer an insular land and people,
but a mighty nation with one sovereign head.

In the address which was presented to the Queen it was stated that
during her reign her colonial subjects of European descent had
increased from two to nine millions, and in Asia and India there was
an increase of population from ninety-six to two hundred and
fifty-four millions.

After the great ceremony of thanksgiving in St Paul's Cathedral the
Queen expressed her thanks to her people in the following message:

"I am anxious to express to my people my warm thanks for the kind,
and more than kind, reception I met with on going to and returning
from Westminster Abbey with all my children and grandchildren.

"The enthusiastic reception I met with then, as well as on those
eventful days in London, as well as in Windsor, on the occasion of
my Jubilee, has touched me most deeply, and has shown that the labours
and anxieties of fifty long years--twenty-two years of which I spent
in unclouded happiness, shared with and cheered by my beloved husband,
while an equal number were full of sorrows and trial borne without
his sheltering arm and wise help--have been appreciated by my people.
This feeling and the sense of duty towards my dear country and
subjects, who are so inseparably bound up with my life, will
encourage me in my task, often a very difficult and arduous one,
during the remainder of my life.

"The wonderful order preserved on this occasion, and the good
behaviour of the enormous multitudes assembled, merits my highest
admiration. That God may protect and abundantly bless my country is
my fervent prayer."

And in laying the foundation-stone of the Imperial Institute, she

"I concur with you in thinking that the counsel and exertions of my
beloved husband initiated a movement which gave increased vigour to
commercial activity, and produced marked and lasting improvements
in industrial efforts. One indirect result of that movement has been
to bring more before the minds of men the vast and varied resources
of the Empire over which Providence has willed that I should reign
during fifty prosperous years.

"I believe and hope that the Imperial Institute will play a useful
part in combining those resources for the common advantage of all
my subjects, conducing towards the welding of the colonies, India,
and the mother-country, into one harmonious and united
community. . . ."

When war was declared in South Africa and the Boer forces invaded
Cape Colony and Natal, contingents from Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, Cape Colony, and Natal joined the British force and fought
side by side throughout that long and trying campaign.

In 1897 was celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of the Queen's reign,
and every colony sent a detachment of troops to represent it. At the
steps of St Paul's Cathedral the Queen remained to return thanks to
God for all the blessings of her reign, and after the magnificent
procession had returned she once again sent a message to her people:

"In weal and woe I have ever had the true sympathy of all my people,
which has been warmly reciprocated by myself. It has given me
unbounded pleasure to see so many of my subjects from all parts of
the world assembled here, and to find them joining in the
acclamations of loyal devotion to myself, and I wish to thank them
all from the depth of my grateful heart."

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