[ocr errors]

of public law and the existing constitution of Europe being once overthrown, no man could say where the evil would stop. Events have justified his previsions, for each successive act of violence is connected with those that preceded it by an irresistible necessity.

The very last act of the Prince's life, and one of the most effective and meritorious, was to draft a minute of the despatch in which the British Government demanded the surrender by the United States of the envoys taken forcibly out of the • Trent. The language in which this demand was couched by the Prince in the Queen's name was at once so dignified and s0 conciliatory that it accomplished the object of obtaining redress without wounding the American Government. But on this occasion also, the measures of Great Britain were cordially and energetically supported by France, and the Emperor performed to the last moment of the Prince's life the part of a sincere ally. Perhaps if these things had been foreseen, the Prince would have spoken of the Emperor in milder terms than are to be found in these volumes.

Amidst all these grave subjects of interest and anxiety, and although symptoms were beginning to show themselves of declining health and physical power, the Prince continued to carry on his incessant and multisarious occupations. No man ever worked harder. Even the time given to the sports of the field was curtailed, necessary as they were to exercise and health.

"Even during these few hours of recreation the brain could have had little rest from its pre-occupations. The day was too short for the claims upon the Prince's attention, and the frequent attacks of illness, even although slight, showed that his body was growing weaker, while cvery day increased the strain upon his mind. In every direction his counsel and his help were sought. In the royal household, in his family circle, among his numerous kinsfolk at home and abroad, his judgment and guidance were being constantly appealed to. Every enterprise of national importance claimed his attention; and in all things that concerned the welfare of the State, at home or abroad, his accurate and varied knowledge, and great political sagacity, made him looked to as an authority by all our leading statesmen. Let those who worked with and for him do their best—and he could not have been served more ably or more devotedly—they could not prevent a pressure which constantly compelled him to do in one day what would have been more than ample work for two. But all this fatigue of body and brain did not deprive hiin of his natural cheerfulness.'

In addition to all this the projectors of International Exhibitions had urged forward a scheme for the renewal in 1862 of that World's Fair in which the Prince had taken so active VOL. CLII. NO. CCCXI.


and useful a part in 1851, and it was hoped that he would again be the mainstay of the enterprise. This prospect filled the Queen with alarm. Her Majesty was already conscious that the Prince was overworked, and was less able than formerly to devote his time to the details of such an exhibition. She therefore addressed a private letter, expressed in the strongest language, to one of the Ministers most familiar with the subject and most attached to the Prince, entreating him to relieve his Royal Highness from this additional duty, or the consequences might be most serious. This was done as far as possible. But the preliminary arrangements for the exhibibition, nevertheless, took up much of the Prince's time. The exhibition took place, but he to whom the original conception had owed its success was no longer amongst us; and a melancholy contrast forced itself on the mind between this posthumous effort and that bright May day of 1851, which was one of the happiest and most glorious of the Queen's reign and of our times. Such a spectacle as that was could never be repeated.

Surrounded by the splendour of a court and the innumerable duties of an Empire, mankind might have deemed the life of the Prince an enviable one. He had conquered prejudices and calumnies; he had made himself a reputation for wisdom and rectitude in England and in Europe; he was surrounded by the devoted attachment of a family of no common promise. But the inexorable shadow, which follows all human activity, moved on, and he was not unconscious of its approach.

" It was characteristic of the Prince Consort that he contemplated the prospect of death with an equanimity by no means common in men of his

years. This was owing to no indifference or distaste for life. He enjoyed it, and was happy and cheerful in his work, in his family circle, in loving thoughtfulness for others, and in the sweet returns of affection which this brought back to himself. But he had none of the strong yearning for life and fulness of years which is felt by those who shrink from looking beyond the warm precincts of the genial day into a strange and uncertain future. He had no wish to die, but he did not care for living. Not long before his fatal illness, in speaking to the Queen, he said, " I do not cling to life. You do ; but I set no store by it. If I knew that those I loved were well cared for, I should be quite ready to die to-morrow.” In the same conversation, he added, “ I am sure, if I had a severe illness, I should give up at once, I should not struggle for life. I have no tenacity of life.” This was said without a trace of sadness; he was content to stay, if such were Heaven's will; he was equally ready to go hence, should that will be otherwise.

• Death, in his view, was but the portal to a further life, in which he might hope for a continuance, under happier conditions, of all that was best in himself and in those he loved, unclogged by the weaknesses, and unsaddened by the failures, the misunderstandings, the sinfulness, the sorrows of earthly existence.

This spirit,' the Queen writes in a memorandum in 1862, this beautiful, cheerful spirit, it was, which made him always happy, always contented, though he felt so deeply and so acutely when others did wrong, and when people did not do their duty; it was this power he had of taking interest in everything, attending to everything, which prompted those blessed feelings about eternity. He was ready to live, ready to die,“ not because I wish to be happier,” as he often remarked, but because he was quite ready to go. He did not do what was right for the sake of a reward hereafter, but, as he always said, “ because it was right.”' (Vol. v. p. 415.)

To a man who has made the purest earthly good his scope and aim, and has sought to raise the path of life to its highest level, the sense of human imperfection and the longing for a nobler state of being come early. These were the characteristics of Prince Albert. By the universal testimony, not only of those who loved him, but of those who knew him at all, none have lived in our time, or perhaps in any times, with a loftier conception of duty or a more complete resolution to fulfil it. If men are great not so much by what they do and suffer, as by what they are, he deserves to occupy a rare position in the records of our race; and not the less so that, although his rank was exalted, his sphere of action was confined, and his activity, though it was extreme and incessant, rarely met the face of day. Perhaps no one will again occupy so singular a position; but the virtues he practised would dignify any position in life. They became him better than his crown.' Self-denial, unselfishness, a devout reliance on the purposes of Providence, and a kindly regard for the wants of men, form a character which we contemplate with sincere admiration and regard. Royalty is apt to make those who are invested with it self-important and exacting: they look down on society from a point of view which distorts its true relations. In Prince Albert the love of truth and justice was invincible; and he laboured to take an honest estimate of his duties to God and to mankind.

We shall not attempt to follow the narrative of his closing hours, which has been traced with the painful minuteness of bereaved affection. It is impossible to read a more touching story. These are the scenes of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, through which we all must pass by the side of those we have loved, or in the gloom which is closing round ourselves. But they are seldom described in real life. Seldom certainly has life closed more mysteriously, ere yet the day's labour was more than half done. Seldom has a larger void been left by the removal of a single citizen from his adopted country. Sir Theodore Martin concludes his task by a few well-chosen sentences, and he borrows the majestic lines which the feverish genius of Shelley breathed over the grave of Adonais, as of one

" Who has outsoared the shadow of our night,
Envy and calumny, and hate, and pain,

And that unrest which men miscall delight.' There is in these lines a ring of suffering, singularly appropriate to Shelley himself, on whose monument, in Christchurch Minster, they are also inscribed, but less adapted to a wellbalanced life and mind. We should rather have chosen for the close of such a literary monument to the dead those noble lines of Milton's Attendant Spirit which contain the moral of Albert's life :

• Mortals that would follow me,
Love virtue; she alone is free;
She can teach you how to climb
Higher than the sphery chime;
Or if virtue feeble were,
Heaven itself would stoop to her.'

Art. V.-1. Etudes sur la religion des Soubbas ou Sabéens, leurs dogmes, leurs mæurs.

Par M. N. SIOUFFI, ViceConsul de France à Moussoul. Paris : 1880. 2. Reisen im Orient. Von H. PETERMANN. 2 vols. Leip

zig: 1860. 3. Codex Nazareus, Liber Adami appellatus. Ed. NORBERG.

Lond. Goth.: 1815. 4. Thesaurus, sive Liber Magnus, vulgo · Liber Adami' appel

latus, opus Mandæorum summi ponderis. Descr. et ed. H.

PETERMANN. 2 vols. Berlin : 1867. 5. Qolasta, oder Gesänge und Lehre von der Taufe und dem

Ausgang der Seele. Mandäischer Text mit sämmtlichen Varianten. Herausgegeben von J. EUTING. Stuttgart :

1867. 6. Mandäische Grammatik. Von TH. NÖLDEKE. Halle :

1875. 7. Die Ssabier und der Ssabismus. Von Dr. D. CHWOLSOHN.

2 vols. St. Petersburg: 1856. Among the various problems that have vexed the souls of

learned men, few have provoked greater controversy, or given rise to more fanciful and conflicting theories, than that connected with the name of Sabian. What the Pelasgians and Etruscans have been to classical commentators, the Letters of Junius and the personality of the Man in the Iron Mask to students of modern mysteries, the origin, character, and habitat of the Sabian religion have proved to Oriental writers and their European followers. To write the history of the numerous significations which have been attached to the word Sabian is to chronicle the errors of the learned world in its Oriental department; whilst to denominate anything as .Sabian’ is even less definite than to call it Turanian.' Omne ignotum pro Turanio has been the maxim of philologists; and to cast every unknown or problematical creed into the general rubbish-hole of the Sabian religion’ has been the principle of Orientalists. The

conquered subjects of the Khalifate recognised this principle, and when they wished to escape the financial penalties of heathendom, and could not persuade their Muslim lords that they were Jews or Christians, they would boldly style themselves. Sabians,' in the full conviction that the Mohammedans knew no more about that religion than that the Prophet of the Arabs had specially excluded it from the general outlawry of idolatry. The problem is one of comparatively

« ForrigeFortsett »