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Windsor Castle itself the event was wholly unexpected. Perhaps even within the precincts of the castle there was little expectation up to the last that such a calamity was so near. The public had only learned a few days before that the prince was unwell. On December 8th the Court Circular mentioned that he was confined to his room by a feverish cold. Then it was announced that he was suffering from fever, unattended by unfavorable symptoms, but likely from its symptoms, to continue for some time." This latter announcement appeared in the form of a bulletin on Wednesday, December 11th. About the midnight of Saturday, the 14th, there was some sensation and surprise created through. out London by the tolling of the great bell of St Paul's. Not many people even suspected the import of the unusual sound. It signified the death of the Prince Consort. He died at ten minutes before eleven that Saturday night, in the presence of the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and the Princesses Alice and Helena. The fever had become fierce and wasting on Friday, and from that time it was only a descent to death. Congestion of the lungs set in, the consequence of exhaustion; the Prince tell into utter weakness, and died conscious but without pain. He knew the Queen to the last. His latest look was turned to her.
The Prince Consort was little more than forty-two years of age when he died. He had always seemed to be in good, although not perhaps robust health, and he had led a singularly temperate life. No one in the kingdom seemed less likely to be prematurely cut off; and his death came on the whole country with the shock of an utter surprise. The regret was universal; and the deepest regret was for the wife he had loved so dearly, and whom he was condemned so soon to leave behind. Every testimony has spoken to the singularly tender and sweet affection of the loving home the Queen and Prince had made for themselves. A domestic happiness rare even among the obscurest was given to them.
It is one of the necessities of royal position that marriage should be seldom the union of hearts. The choice is limited by considerations, which do not affect people in private life. The convenience of states has to be taken into account; the possible likings and dislikings of people whom perhaps the bride and bridegroom have never seen, and are never des. tined to see. A marriage among princes is, in nine cases out of ten, a marriage of convenience only. Seldom, indeed, is it made, as that of the Queen was, wholly out of love. Seldom is it even in love-matches when the instincts of love are not deceived and the affection grows stronger with the days. Every one knew that this had been the strange good fortune of the Queen of England. There was something poetic, romantic in the sympathy with which so many faithful and loving hearts turned to her in her hour of unspeakable distress.
We have already endeavored to do justice to the character of the Prince Consort; to show what was his intellectual constitution, what were its strong points, and what its weaknesses and limitations. It is not necessary to go over that task again. It will be enough to say that the country which had not understood him at first was beginning more and more to recognize his genuine worth. Even those who are still far from believing that his influence in politics always worked with good result are ready to admit that his influence, socially and morally, was that which must always come from the example of a pure and noble life. Of him it might fairly have been said in the classic words that from his mouth “nihil unquam insolens neque gloriosum exiit."
Perhaps, as we have been considering the influence of the Prince Consort on the councils of England during the earlier part of the American Civil War, it will be appropriate to quote some sentences in which the eminent American historian already mentioned, Dr.Draper, speaks of him. “One illustrious man there was in England,” Dr. Draper says,
“who saw that the great interests of the future would be better subserved by a sincere friendship with America than by the transitory alliances of Europe. He recognized the bonds of race. His prudent counsels strengthened the determination of the sovereign that the Trent controversy should have an honorable and peaceful solution. Had the desires of these, the most exalted personages in the realm, been more completely fulfilled, the administration of Lord Palmerston would not have cast a disastrous shadow on the future of the Anglo-Saxon race.” Dr. Draper may be thought unjust to Lord Palmerston; he certainly is only just to the Prince Consort.
After the disqute about the Trent, the feeling between England and the United States became one of distrust, and almost of hostility. We cannot help thinking that the man. ner in which our government managed the dispute, the superfluous display of force, like a pistol thrust at the head of a disputant whom mere argument is already bringing to reason, had a great deal to do with the growth of this bitter feeling. The controversy about the Trent was hardly over when Lord Russell and Mr. Adams were engaged in the more prolonged and far more serious controversy about the Confederate privateers.
The adventures of the Confederate cruisers began with the escape of a small schooner, the Savannah, from Charleston, in June 1861. It scoured the seas for a while as a privateer, and did some damage to the shipping of the Northern States. The Sumter had a more memorable career. She was under the command of Captain Semmes, who after became famous, and during her time she did some little damage. The Nashville and the Petrel were also well known for a while. These were, however, but small vessels, and Each had only a short run of it. The first privateer which became really formidable to the shipping of the North was a vessel called in her earlier history the Oreto, but after
ward better known as the Florida. Within three months she had captured fifteen vessels. Thirteen of these she burned, and the other two were converted into cruisers by the Confederate government. The Florida was built in Birkenhead, nominally for the use of the Italian government. She got out of the Mersey without detention or difficulty, although the American Minister had warned our government of her real purpose. From that time Great Britain became what an American writer calls without any exag. geration “the naval base of the Confederacy." As fast as ship-builders could work, they were preparing in British shipping yards a privateer navy for the Confederate government. Mr. Gladstone said in a speech, which was the subject of much comment, that Jefferson Davis had made a navy. The statement was at all events not literally correct. The English ship-builders made the navy. Mr. Davis only ordered it and paid for it. Only seven Confederate privateers were really formidable to the United States, and of these five were built in British dock-yards. We are not including in the list any of the actual war-vessels, the rams and ironclads, that British energy was preparing for the Confederate government. We are now speaking merely of the privateers.
Of these privateers the most famous by far was the Alabama. It was the fortune of this vessel to be the occasion of the establishment of a new rule in the law of nations. It had nearly been her fortune to bring England and the United States into war. The Alabama was built expressly for the Confederate service in one of the dock. yards of the Mersey. She was built by the house of Laird, a firm of the greatest reputation in the ship-building trade, and whose former head was the representative of Birkenhead in the House of Commons. While in process of construction she was called the “ 290;" and it was not until she had put to sea and hoisted the Confederate flag, and Captain Semmes, formerly commander of the Sumter, had appeared on her deck in full Confederate uniform, that she took the name of the Alabama. During her career the Alabama captured nearly seventy Northern vessels. Her plan was always the same. She hoisted the British flag, and thus decoyed her intended victim within her reach; then she displayed the Confederate colors and captured her prize. Unless when there was some particular motive for making use of the captured vessels, they were burned. Sometimes the blazing wreck became the means of decoying a new victim. Some American captain saw far off in the night the flames of a burning vessel reddening the sea. He steered to her aid: and when he came near enough, the Alabama, which was yet in the same waters and had watched his coming, fired her shot across his bows, hung out her flag, and made him her prisoner. One American captain bitterly complained that the fire, which seen across the waves at any other time became a summons to every seaman to hasten to the rescue, must thence-forward be a signal to him to hold his course and keep away from the blazing ship. The Alabama and her captain were of course much glorified in this country, Captain Semmes was eulogized as if his exploits had been those of another Cochrane or Kanaris. But the Alabama did not do much fighting; she preyed on merchant vessels that could not fight. She attacked where instant surrender must be the reply to her summons. Only twice, so far as we know, did she engage in a fight. The first time was with the Hatteras, a small blockading ship whose broadside was so unequal to that of the Alabama that she was sunk in a quarter of an hour. The second time was with the United States ship-of-war Kearsarge, whose size and armaments were about equal to her own. The fight took place off the French shore. near Cherbourg, and the career of the Alabama was finished in an hour. The Confederate rover was utterly shattered, and went down. Captain Semmes was