THE BETROTHAL OF THE PRINCESS BEATRICE.
—ENGLISH journalists are as clumsy in their use of the language of ceremonial as all other Englishmen, except Lord Granville. It is a pleasant and a graceful custom that all England should congratulate the Sovereign on the marriage of any of her children ; but the grace, at all events, is taken out of the offering when it is couched in language of abject sycophancy, wholly unreal, and, in the present instance, singularly out of place. The object of national regard is, or should be, the Queen, rather than her family ; and, in consenting to the betrothal of the Princess Beatrice, the Queen considers her daughter's happiness, rather than her own. Prince Henry of Battenberg consents, it is true, to stay in England,—no slight sacrifice, when one remembers how absolutely every career will be closed to him here, and how many are open in Germany,—but every marriage divides a household, and the loneliness of the Sovereign will be more complete than ever. We know of nothing more pathetic in the world than the contrast which must exist between the position of Queen Victoria, as a Sovereign who is known of all mankind, and an object of affectionate interest to millions, who will give a name to an era, and whose personality stands between this generation and its growing tendency to Republicanism, and h-r position as a lady declining into years, with the cares of fifty States upon her shoulders—for nothing can occur in the Empire which does not at least seem of moment to its Sovereign—with no change to expect save the last one, and with almost all relatives, intimates and close friends, slowly passing away. No ene now in the Palace, except the Princess Beatrice, stands really close to the Queen, or on any footing of possible equality ; and the Princess is passing, if not into another country, into another family, and yet the Queen is expected to be glad. That is, it will be said, but the common lot oc the old, and every other widow in years goes through the same experience ; but ib is not true. To other widows, with the loneliness of age comes relief from duties, the society of equal friends, a lighter rush in the bewildering current of life, comparative peace from the turmoil of the world's affairs. There can be little peace for the Queen, with affairs growing every day more varied, more pressing, and more momentous, with the nations becoming every year more conscious, and. therefore more perturbed ; and with the sound of the rushing feet of the Democracy, which to a politician of the Queen's experience must now be plainly audible, coming nearer and nearer to the Throne. When all is said, a Queen's role is to be royalist ; and there is no Sovereign in Europe, however great the ad-. vance of his or her States, who can reflect, without melancholy, that the day when Sovereigns needed no protection is long past, and that almost all hold not only power, but life, only on condition of incessant watchfulness. We do not congratulate the Queen, though we honour her self-sacrifice.
We could have wished, for one reason, that the fates had postponed the betrothal of the last maiden Princess of the House for one more year. We should like to have seen what the first Democratic House of Commons would have decided about the question of appanages, whether it would have really been as unreasonable, not to say mean, about the maintenance of the Queen's children, as some of the constituencies certainly are now. If it is so, the next Premier will undoubtedly be obliged to put the whole matter on a new footing, for these recurring squabbles about allowances are as undignified as they are futile. We understand the dislike to endow collaterals or establish precedents of too extensive application; and are in truth rather careless what becomes of Kings' cousins, second cousins, and remote descendants. But the nation cannot refuse portions to the Sovereign's children, who are either the children of England or have no position at all ; and we have no sympathy with the grudging spirit in which the duty is now performed. Republicanism is a noble faith, and may at no distant date be the political faith of all English-speaking men, as it is already their political practice ; but there is no nobility whatever, nothing but ignoble querulousness and bad-temper in squabbling with the Throne about the cost of its necessary robes. The allowances of the Royal House are but part of its dress, or of that external magnificence which for it is but decorum ; and to higgle about paying them is but meanness like that of the millionaire, whet will keep carriages but will not pay for any renovation of their paint. It is not economy, but penny-wisdom. We sadly want in this country a new Joseph Hume, a man who will persistently protect the nation's shillings, and insist upon knowing the reasons for the deadweight we have to carry ; but if he has sense as well as thrift, he will set down the cost of the monarchy at so much, and ask if the total, not the details, is worth its cost. We have not patience to read of the grants for Royal yachts, for useless ceremonies, for regiments of retired Generals, and shiploads of Admirals off duty, all passed without a word ; and then to hear murmurs about a petty sum to be allowed to a Princess who has been in her sphere of real use, and who, if she were not, is part of the symbol we are unanimously agreed to keep up. Let us be done with the Monarchy, or let us pay for it,.—we will not say like gentlemen, but like men of sense. We do not believe the electors recognise the character of their own behaviour when they growl at decent allowances to the daughters of the National House, or bid their representatives refuse to the Heir of the Throne the means of living like a grandee. What else do they want him to be, or would they like a subscription on his behalf ? The worship of the Queen, the base adulation with which every incident in her life is recorded, the daily complaint that she is too retired, the murmuring because the Heir needs an establishment, and the groaning because a Princess must have pin-money suited to her rank, make up together a scene which to us at least, who are certainly not strong Monarchists, is unintelligible, if not disgusting. Scissors are not the weapons with which a throne should be assailed, nor is there any wisdom in declaring that an idol shall continue to be worshipped, if only it will consent to wear shabby robes.