Imágenes de páginas

The marriage of Queen Victoria with Prince Albert took place February 10, 1840. The prince was received in England with a certain coolness which at times betrayed itself by absurd and unjust suspicions, and by uncivil procedures. Prince Albert was a free-thinker, some said ; others averred that he was a Roman Catholic. The proposition for an annuity for the prince was not accepted without debate in Parliament, and the amount was finally reduced from fifty thousand pounds to thirty thousand. Prince Albert was destined to be justly appreciated and to become thoroughly popular in his adopted country only after his death. Every year of his virtuous life was, however, to bring him increasing happiness in his family, and increasing consideration and respect in his country. And finally, all England was to lament him, feeling to this day the grief and void caused by his loss.





THE queen's marriage with Prince Albert was celebrated in

February, 1810, and in June of the same year the first of those attempts upon her life was made, which from tiine to time have alarmed and exasperated England. The assassin was one Oxford, a boy of seventeen, half crazy, and treated as such. No political motive was assigned for this attack, the act of a disordered mind and an insane thirst for notoriety. Five times more, at very irregular intervals, the queen was destined to be the object of similar attacks. No one of the assassins paid with his life for the criminal attempt; no one even underwent a long imprisonment. A law, made expressly, fixed the punishment for such attempts at transportation for seven years, or imprisonment for not more than three years, “ the culprit to be publicly or privately whipped as often and in such manner as the court shall direct, not exceeding thrice.” Neither the queen nor the nation desired a vindictive punishment of these insane acts, which appear never to have been inspired by fanatical passions or instigated by secret societies, as were the attacks made upon Louis Philippe in France.

More serious anxieties at this time occupied the statesmen of both England and France. The recent difficulties between the Sultan of Turkey and his great vassal, Mohammed Ali, Pasha of Egypt, threatened to kindle a war between the great Powers of Europe, protectors of one or the other of the belligerents. Sultan Mahmoud died (July 1, 1839) at the moment when his troops sent to recapture Syria from the pasha had been defeated by the army of the latter. The new sultan, Abdul Medjid, was but sixteen years of age; the audacity of the Pasha of Egypt was increased by this fact, and such was his influence over the very officers of the Porte, that the Capitan Pasha, or HighAdmiral of the Turkish fleet, took his vessels to Alexandria and delivered them up to the viceroy. The courts of Europe offered their mediation, which was accepted by Turkey, and the difficulties of the situation increased daily. King Louis Philippe sent M. Guizot to London as ambassador.

“My situation in entering upon negotiations in London upon the Turkish question was singularly hampered and difficult,” writes M. Guizot in his Mémoires. By our note to the Porte of the 27th of July, 1839, we had agreed to act upon that

ques. tion in concert with Austria, Prussia, and Russia, as well as with England, and we had deterred the sultan from making any direct arrangement with the Pasha of Egypt, assuring him that the united action of the five great Powers was certain. Since that time, however, we had encouraged the pretensions of the pasha to the hereditary possession not merely of Egypt but also of Syria, and at the time that I was accredited to London, notwithstanding the obstacles we had encountered, we still persevered in this resolution. The king's government,' wrote Marshal Soult, in his instructions to me, dated February 19, 1840, ‘has believed and believes still that, in the present position of Mohammed Ali, to offer him less than the hereditary throne of Egypt and Syria would be to expose ourselves to a certain refusal, which he would support, if need were, by desperate resistance, of which the result would be a severe shock, and perhaps total overthrow, to the Ottoman Empire.' Thus pledged on the one hand to a concert with the other great Powers, and on the other, to a support of the pasha's claims, we had against us in the negotiations: England, - she refused absolutely to the

[graphic][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »