If ever she whom the whole British race reveres as QUEEN and Mother had a claim to the loving sympathies of her true and loyal children, it is surely at this moment, when she is suffering from the pangs of a great and unutterable grief, a calamity that has come upon us so suddenly that we are stunned by the shock, and do not know how to realise it.
During the greater part of last week the minds of Englishmen had been engrossed with the absorbing question of probable conflict with America. But on the morning of Saturday last there came news from Windsor which filled us with a fresh anxiety that far surpassed the other. We cared not then what tidings the next mail might bring, we had lost all interest in the receipt of President Lincoln’s message.
That fell typhoid monster, whose wont it is to strike men down in the flower and vigour of their age, which bereaves the wife of the husband, the children of the father, who but lately was rejoicing in the full pride of manhood, the disease that but a few weeks since had cut off in early youth his Royal cousin of Portugal, laid its heavy hand on the husband of our QUEEN.
It was but on Saturday morning, 14th December, that we awoke to the danger. During the twelve next hours the lamp of life alternately flickered and waned, and late at night we were told that the worst had happened. Prince ALBERT was dead.
On that Sunday morning, which rose so bright and joyous under a blue sky that seemed to mock at our grief, men walked the streets with slower step than usual, and women greeted each other with tears in their eyes. When at every service in London the name of the PRINCE CONSORT was omitted from customary prayer and from the well-known petition in the Litany, when from the pulpit the preacher announced to his flock the tidings that many among them had neither known nor feared, every church became a house of mourning, and the Sunday in Advent was sadder than a Sunday in Lent.
Queen VICTORIA is a widow, and a nation puts on the weeds. She weeps for a great and irreparable loss, and the tears of a sorrowing people are mingled with hers. The dismal tolling of the bells of yesterday was but a faint symbol of a sympathy too deep for words or signs. The dart of death that has lacerated her spirit has sent an icy chill to every loyal breast, to every heart that beats with British blood.
If any consolation can avail our Royal Mistress, now suffering from a loss the greatest that can befall a woman, she will know now, if ever, how deeply she stands in the affections of her subjects.
It is with Royal as with private persons, we only realise their full value when they are taken from us for ever. All that he has done appears now in a brighter light; any injustice that may have been done him is now looked back upon remorsefully.
He is dead, but in his children he lives still. If our earnest hope be fulfilled, we shall recognise in future years, in the dignified bearing, the spotless life, the noble and generous careers of our English Kings, the pattern of he who is gone.