TOPICS OF THE DAY.
THE CEREMONIAL OF TUESDAY.
THE stately magnificence of the scene in the Albert Hall on Tuesday, a scene unsurpassed in history, and rivalled only when a Roman Czesar received the envoys of a world, or a Russian Czar summoned the representatives of two con- tinents to add splendour to his coronation, cannot hide from the eyes of the thoughtful the melancholy and ironic strange- ness of the situation. Even the weather had been kind, and it was amidst the soft, cool brightness of a premature English summer that the Queen, surrounded by a Court for a moment as brilliant as that of Versailles, bowed in response to the acclamations of men delegated by a fourth of the human race to tender to her expressions of loyalty or love. In the long history of earthly pageants, no ceremony is recorded which could have been more satisfying or suggestive to the historian, or even to the political philosopher ; and yet its total effect on many, perhaps on the Queen herself, burdened as she is with the experiences of nearly half a century of sovereignty and a lifelong knowledge of the secret history of English Administrations, was one of poignant pain. A great poet sung to her of the number of her subject friends ; a great scholar prayed in the sonorous music of modulated Sanscrit—that pealing organ among the instruments through which man expresses thought—and yet never stepped beyond the tongues with which she has regal relations ; an Archbishop, head of a widespread Church, told the Almighty that her dominion stretched "from sunrise round to sunrise ;" and yet the Queen cannot have been content. Had our manners admitted of the Court Orator who in some Eastern Monarchies used to describe to the Sovereign the scene before him, he might without overstepping truth have
said something like this From every Continent on the planet, and from every sea, the representatives of forty Colonies, and of races speaking sixty languages, a full fourth of the host of mankind have sent their delegates to honour your Majesty, and their choicest products, whether of nature, or art, or thought, for the inspection and entertain- ment of your Court. 'There are here present men from lands in which your ancestral realm would be a mere pleasaunce round a palace, a wheatfield hardly missed if it disappeared, a garden valued only for its various beauty, and in those lands also you are Sovereign. There are others from kingdoms which were civilised when Cerdic invaded Kent, which are still full of population, of cities, of busy life ; and in all you are the supreme Lady, the symbol and centre of a power which, save in your own goodness and your people's, has no limit. Sail round the world, and everywhere nations, actual or to be, will swarm to welcome you ; and they are all yours. Strike through the earth to the skies below your feet, and as you emerge under the Southern Cross you will still be among fresh millions who are yours, who speak your language, who revere your race, who, sooner than you should suffer dishonour, would die shoulder to shoulder round your flag. On earth there is not, and never has been, anything like your sway ; for in all these forty lands, among those myriad populations, your rule is recognised as beneficent, and the men who are here come not at your bidding, but at the will of those who send them, and who, in sending them, touch your sceptre in token either of love or acquiescence. Over them all, like a cloud full of soft, fertilising rain, stretches the "Peace of Britain," and among them all is none so humble but if he appeals to your justice he will have redress for wrong.' It would all be true, even the Southeyan magniloquence of the descent through earth ; but to all the Queen might well reply It is all true that you say, but you have not told it all. Here as I stand, with a world acclaiming rue, and the representatives of these nations bowing their heads, my first Counsellor tells me my throne is undermined ; that I must perforce break off one of its feet if I would avert an explosion ; that, amidst forty subject States, the first my ancestors conquered has grown too strong for me ; that in a third of my own ancient realm I am not only detested, but impotent. My writ, which runs through India and the isles of the Pacific, cannot be served in Ireland. My Judges, to whom appeals come up from all the ends of the earth, must in Ireland be pensioned to avoid contumelious dismissal. The representatives of a world cannot baffle the representatives of one poor island, the nearest to the source of my power, and my people, who
have founded or conquered a hundred States, whose mere offshoot stands to-day strongest among the nations of the
earth, cannot conquer, or conciliate, or keep this one poor little State beneath my sceptre. There is strength in the limbs of my dominion, but fluttering in its heart. I am weary of your praise of my glory, and would I could openly answer my Laureate's lofty rhymes in the sadder but truer verses that tell the fate of an Empire older than mine, which, while still the envoys of earth thronged to the feet of its lord, and sought in its forum for justice, and hushed their brawls at its word, died slowly of a slackening pulse :— " Like ours it looked in outward air, Its head was clear and true, Sumptuous its clothing, rich its fare, No pause its action knew ; Stout was its arm, each thew and bone Seemed puissant and alive ; But, ah 1 its heart, its heart was gone,* And so it could not thrive." ' And the sad reply of the Monarch would be truer to the facts of the hour than the glowing• periods of the Court Orator. If Mr. Parnell had stood among that vast multitude and heard the strophes of the poet—broken even as they flowed by the harsh, warning cry of the refrain to every glowing verse—he might have said I alone, 0 Queen of all who are here, acknowledge not your sway, reject your sceptre, and in my humbleness am mightier than you. You cannot for very shame strike down one so weak as I, and in your virtue is the sentence of your power.' And this also would have been true.
If the Kingdom is to be broken, it hardly matters whether the Empire is ; but those who advise the breaking can hardly have reflected on what the Separation which is the inevit- able, and as far as Irish leaders are concerned the in- tended, outcome of Home-rule would mean to the Empire. Men like Lord Rosebery can hardly reflect that in the richest of the Australian Colonies every third man is an Irishman, and would become a foreigner ; that in the Canadian Dominion two hundred thousand Irish Loyalists would feel themselves expatriated ; that in every Colony beneath the Crown there would be a strong and fierce party, ready to wreck civilisation rather than abide subjects of Queen Victoria. In every brigade there would be a regiment, often the most honoured for its daring or its deeds, which must disband itself ; in every regiment, two hundred men who, if they remained, might be taunted as mercenary soldiers. Our cities would swarm with foreigners, who in war-time might be hostile, while in every department of work throughout the world, one man probably in five would be compelled to elect his nationality, and be trusted, if he chose his own, only as we trust French or Germans. Separation between Britain and Ireland is not cutting off a limb, whether healthy or diseased, but striving to dispense with an entire system of nerves, to which every other system responds in pleasure or in pain. If the people could but realise the consequences of Home-rule, they would no more discuss it than they would dis- cuss relief from headache at the price of paralysis, or submit to the cure of a gouty toe by cutting the nerves which connect it with the spine. Perhaps.they will realise it yet ; but to us, we confess, the ceremonial of Tuesday brings little hope, only a sad reflection that nothing dies till it has done its work, and that none but the Everlasting can tell if British work is already done.