THE WAYS OF PRINCES.
THERE have been many Royal authors, and we wish sometimes there were yet another, a Prince of pure blood and of a really great house to tell us meaner folk how Princes really feel about the etiquettes which environ them. They seem so suffocating, as we called them last week, yet they can hardly be really detested by those who obey them, or they would not have survived as they have done so many changes in the ways of men. One or two etiquettes have died out, probably because they wearied courtiers, who took advantage of changes of dynasty or the like silently to leave of obeying them ; but enough remain to make of Princes a caste separate in habits from mankind. No Sovereign is now served, we imagine, on beaded knee, nor does any one on whom a King's glance falls think it incumbent on him, as Cecil did, at once to kneel; but enough are left to make life very tiresome. It must be a horrid bore to a King never to be able to move without attendance, or to chat easily, or to enter or leave a room without exciting a commotion. Legend declares that Lord William Bentinck, finding the first of these etiquettes in full force when he took up his Indian Viceroyalty, threatened to resign unless it could be abolished, and was relieved to find that he was absolute enough, pro- vided he wrote the order, even to be able to alter an etiquette. That particular oppression is, we feel convinced, the cause of the Hero= al Raschid instinct, and the discreditable adventures into which it has sometimes beguiled great Sovereigns. To the third, we suppose, one could grow accustomed as a necessary consequence of greatness, as one grows accustomed to great height or fatness, or to any bodily obstacle in the way of ready locomotion. A man is rarely distressed by his own bodily magnitude unless it is accompanied by feebleness. The second etiquette must, however, be very wearying, even though of all etiquettes it is usually admitted to be most necessary. Direct questions must not be addressed to a King, because they might be in a way coercive, even silence often giving the reply which for State reasons, as well as for reasons of dignity, it may be imperative to avoid. The lose of the easy give and take of familiar conversation must, how- ever, be a considerable one, and Kings must long sometimes to chat as freely as they must know that other men do. Only with wives or children can they indulge in equality, and we fancy that even with children the sense of equality departs as they grow up. It is true that private persons are, without observing it, surrounded by many etiquettes ; that servants open doors for their employers, refrain from speaking to them unless spoken to, and never converse with them in any true sense of conversation ; but men in our day do not live as they practically did once, in the servants' hall. All are ser- vants to Kings, and the fact must make the latter very lonely, and deprive them of much information Which might be of value. In particular they hear of no complaints, and many inconveniences exist in palaces of which if their owners heard they would at once provide a remedy. It is, however, the pleasures of Princes which seem to the outer world so suffo- cating with their oppressive scale and overwhelming cere- mony and fuss. Imagine going out daily "to hunt," as the Kings of France used, with a cavalcade of hundreds, and a fixed etiquette of approach to the King, and strict laws about the pace so that he might not be ontridden, and an inviolable rule that whatever his skill he must at least seem to be successful in his attacks upon the beasts. Something of that etiquette is kept up still, and keepers need not open their eyes at the number of birds or hares which always fall before Royal or Imperial marksmen. Emperors always hit when they shoot, as Popes are always healthy till they die. Imagine, again, a grand reception, lasting hours, with every- body occupying a fixid place, and entitled to a fixed degree of attention ; or a" banquet" with millions sterling on the tables, and the best music in Europe, whether you are musical or not, and nobody talking as if they were rather more at ease than usual. A full-dress review is a "free-and-easy" compared
with such a festivity ; but Kings must like it, or why the banquet ? There can be no compensation in the food, for Kings can only procure what their subjects also can buy, and though their cooks may be good, cookery is a fine art in which many are equal to each other. The compensation must be in the pageant, and all Princes seem to enjoy pageantry, despite its inevitable tediousness, because of that sense of importance, of being the centre, and as it were cause, of all the movement around which to many, perhaps a majority, must be among the most delightful of permanent sensations. It can hardly, one would think, make up for the lack of freedom; but then what is freedom to a canary ? or are any of us free of that endless clothing of habits which separates us from savages, who yet are bound by habits even more inexorable than our Own? It was not civilised man who invented the laws of "taboo," with death penalties to enforce them. Kings must feel something of pleasure in their dignity, or they would never bear their isolation, more especially if from tempera- ment, as by position, they are really above insult. If they are not, if they feel vulgar reflections, even when made in a foreign country, and hunger like ordinary folk that all men should speak well of them, their happiness from position must be of a chequered kind. Even the strong, however, must enjoy their dignity, or they would not in all countries and in all circumstances be so unforgiving for any breach of the etiquette which in its very oppressiveness reminds them always how separate they are from the remainder of their kind. They remember a blunder in etiquette always, as James II. remembered through life that some sailors during his flight from London had dared to touch him. Belief in right divine has probably died in most modern Kings, though they parade and would fain believe it, but the pride of office can exist without that belief, and in Monarchs it must neces- sarily be very strong. No one else is so utterly without a superior or an equal in his own land.
We wonder whether if the regal etiquettes all died the regal office would die too, whether, as the humourist said, majesty deprived of its externals would be only a jest. We fancy not. We see no disposition in America to degrade or belittle the Presidency, though surrounded by so little ceremony, and see no reason to think that a French President, if his prerogatives were made more clear, would if he lived like an English Judge be regarded as less than a King. Many of the wisest of mankind, however, have thought otherwise. The heads of the Catholic Church, who should know the human heart if any one does, keep up round the Pope an inviolable etiquette not altogether consistent with his religious position, and would gladly see him regain all the pomp of actual sovereignty. Only able men found dynasties, and each man as he performs that fat burdens himself with etiquettes as if he felt that they were armour, while the Kings who have been really great have rarely if ever laid them aside. Charles V. was as punctilious about his dignity as his son Philip II. The entire caste, in truth, whieh should by this time know its own business, is of one mind upon this matter, and this with little reference to its possession or lack of power. It is not true that a rigid etiquette is only maintained by constitutional Sovereigns, for the most rigid one ever kept up was adopted by the Austrian Emperors while they were true Cmsars, and could inflict death by fiat. The only Sovereign whom we can recall who was genuinely careless of regal etiquette while full of regal pride was Mary of Scots, who on some great occasions showed herself indifferent even to grotesque dress ; but then she was conscious of a personal magic which never failed her, and wrapped her round with a halo less penetrable even than the one which etiquette is intended to create. Louis Philippe allowed etiquette to relax, but he never thought himself really King, being at heart Legitimist, and the result of his experi- ment was not encouraging. We doubt if it will be repeated)
and expect, if Europe does bee ome Republican as Napoleon pre- dicted, to find the Sovereigns on their last day dressed in the
uniforms they think most impressive, and bidding Presidents sit in their presence as the highest compliments it is possible to pay. Only one Sovereign that we can recall has died fighting for his throne, and he, the forgotten hero Constantine Palmo- logus, first in rank in the world though his dominion had been reduced to a single city, died with his insignia as Emperor still upon him.