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from that which the Churches teach as. the Gospel,
Poor people, it is sometimes said with surprise, believe they will go to heaven simply because they have suffered so much on earth. What is this but faith in the Justice of God?
This obstinate belief in a final reign of Justice, the last consolation of the poor and the oppressed, was the secret of the great uprising we have been considering, and this was why they hailed with such joy the first proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven.
When the outcasts of Jerusalem found that the chief object that Jesus Christ had was to proclaim a reign of Justice and to establish it on earth; when they saw that with Him the advantage of individuals was only regarded as it helped to-establish or illustrate the Kingdom of Heaven; when they found that in pursuit of this object he was not afraid to rebuke offenders--however pious, respectable, or highly placed-faith in God and man once more rose in their hearts, and in their unwonted joy they made the streets of Jerusalem resound with the cry: "Blessed is the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!"
Such a view of the Gospel will not, I am conscious, appeal to a society like ours, based on the idea that every individual pecessarily seeks his own advantage. What consoles the oppressed. masses is not the promise of personal profit, even when it takes the form of eternal felicity, but the certainty that Justice will be vindicated.
And because this Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven is not preached in Eng land, Christians have not recognized that the primary object of their calling is that they should at all cost devote themselves to bringing about the reign of Justice on earth.
To do so would doubtless involve the same results it has always done. For injustice is to so great a degree the
basis of our society, and the progress of injustice is so rapid, that to make any real stand against it will certainly lead to the charge of stirring up the people, and possibly to a fate similar to His against whom this accusation was first brought.
In the fourteenth century there was no book more popular than "The Vision of Piers Plowman." The Individual Christian, the F'oor hard-working Man, Human Nature, the Church, are all represented in the character of Piers Plowman, and by a profoundly Christian thought, Jesus Christ in His suffering and humiliation is so identified with Piers Plowman that the poet cannot distinguish who it is he beholds. In the nineteenth passus he falls into a dream during Mass:
And sodeynly me mette
"And thanne called I Conscience, To kenne me the sothe;
Is this Jhesus the justere quod I,
Or is it Piers the Plowman
Quod Conscience and kneeled tho,
Hise colours and his cote armure
This is the faith that has ever lain dormant in the heart of the people, the faith that found voice and action in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, and again in our own times. If that faith is mute to-day, it is becausethere is no heart in the suffering poor. The rich have taken from them their one little ewe lamb-the Gospel of the Kingdom of Heaven, and have offered them in its place a changeling they do not care to accept.-Contemporary Review.
AN ENGLISH PRINCESS.
BY JOHN OLDCASTLE.
THE biography of the Princess Alice, written in German by Dr. Sell, and enriched by the letters addressed to her
royal mother, has at last been given to the English reader. While the task of translation was still in the hands of the
Princess Christian, we published in these pages many of the most memorable of those letters; but it must not be supposed that in so doing we seriously discounted the interest of the volume just issued by Mr. Murray. To whet and not to satisfy the appetite was our hope then, as it still is in the supplementary remarks which we now offer. For, in truth, no magazine article, and still less the yet more fragmentary notices which every newspaper has printed, exhaust, or even adequately represent, the interest of the volume as a whole.
According to a story told in the studios, Mr. Millais recently said of a statue by Mr. Thornycroft, that if it were broken to bits, and buried on classic ground, the finder of a fragment at some future day would proclaim to the world the discovery of a new tribute to the genius of an ancient Greek. Yet if all the parts were not gathered together into a perfect whole, history could not vouch that the sculptor owned that mastery of proportion and of composition essential to his supremacy in art. And these fragments of the Princess Alice's letters, published here and there throughout the land, might, indeed, be taken for fragments from the lives of heroines or of saints; but only in the completeness of the volume will be found the whole beauty and balance of the character of this daughter of the Queen. Moreover, newspaper-notices are open to suspicions. By adroitly taking the cream off a volume they often tantalize a palate which, when it thirstily approaches the volume out of which a cunning journalist has made so charming a draft, finds remaining only the thinnest of skimmed milk. It is necessary, therefore, to say at once that such is not the case with the book before us. No weary reviewer, anxious to say the civil thing or the kind one, has had occasion to tear his hair over the task of gathering together so many attractive scraps as will fill the shop-window of a single short paper. The volume bears
to be read from cover to cover.
If the biography by Dr. Sell is far less interesting than the letters of the Princess, it has this conspicuous merit -it is extremely brief. Besides being briefly, it is on the whole well done,
though it hardly avoids those errors which beset the path of the royal biographer and all his brotherhood. These have done their best at all times to make royal persons, if not contémptible, at least ridiculous. In truth, royalty fares badly enough on all hands in the way it is presented to the public. All the ordinary news that a country has of a Court is of that conventional kind which nowadays touches no hearts. The recurring announcements which tell us that the Queen walked on the slopes, or that this lord-in-waiting was succeeded by that, rouse no human sympathy, and discover the monarch to the people as little more than a machine., And when a statesman breaks silence' and tells us of this or that Prince, heroic virtue and sublime genius are the terms applied to that average of conduct and attainments, the absence of which would be little less than a catastrophe in our brothers and our sons. The newspapers, too, are apt to lash themselves into curious displays of what is supposed, by tired writers at midnight, to be expressive of the loyalty of the nation. If they would only be natural, only say what they think, and not what they think other people are thinking, how refreshing to everybody would their sentiments be! The doggerel verses reprinted at the end of this volume from some paper which published them at the time of the Princess's death, illustrate what I mean to a nicety-their trite insincerities are so much lumber, obscuring anything that is lovely in individuality, or sincere in mourning. The biographer calls them "beautiful," and no doubt thinks them so-it is not the only evidence he gives of a rather blunt discrimination. He is of the number of those who believe that a royal personage is not of common clay. The flesh and blood" theory of Mr. Gladstone he might apply to Jack Cade, but to a Lord John Cade less certainly, and to Prince John Cade of Hesse Darmstadt not at all.
Domestic happiness, he infers in one place, falls to the lot only of the middle classes-royal palaces at any rate must hardly count on a display of such bourgeois virtues and sentiments as matrimonial fidelity and maternal love. It is precisely because the Princess shows herself to be, before everything else, a
daughter, a wife, and a mother in these letters that they are welcomed by English readers everywhere, and that the writer of them is held in singular affection. It is Dr. Sell who makes pretensions of another sort for the Princess-it is he who would show her as an artist, a person of fine literary taste, a far-seeing politician, and all the rest of it; but the Princess is content to show us herself as she really is. Nor will a character so beautiful suffer anything from the artificial gloss which others involuntarily put upon it.
The letters of the Princess may be said to be unique. It is quite true that we have records of royal life other than the life of Courts. The Journals of the Queen show her in simplest aspects show her to us as a mother, a wife, a daughter, with all the details of domesticity. But the Queen has given us diaries, records, what you will; but never yet a book. It is Professor Ruskin who somewhere draws the distinction between volumes of the hour and volumes of all time. The volumes of the hour are "simply the useful or pleasant talk of some person whom you cannot otherwise converse with, printed for you, and strictly speaking they are not books at all, but merely letters or newspapers in good print. Our friend's letter may be delightful or necessary to-day; whether worth keeping or not is to be considered. The newspaper may be entirely proper at breakfast-time, but assuredly it is not reading for all day. So though bound up in a volume, the long letter which gives you so pleasant an account of the inns, and roads, and weather last year at such a place, or which tells you that amusing story, or gives you the real circumstances of such and such events, however valuable for occasional reference, may not be, in the real sense of the word, a book at all, nor in the real sense, to be read. But if so many of the books issued from the press are according to the Professor's definition mere letters, these Letters of the Princess Alice may take rank as a book. If this be paradoxical, greater paradoxes remain. These letters are conspicuous because commonplace, unexpected because ordinary, memorable because they have nothing to mark them
from the letters of a million daughters and a million wives.
Having said so much, but not a word more than appears to be necessary to fulfil Dr. Johnson's admonitionclear your minds of cant," we may pass on to look at the autograph portrait of the Princess with which her letters present us. And in truth her own characteristic is an absence of cant. It was not possible that she should in all things be free from convention in her ways of thought in theological, literary, or political matters; time, if that alone, failed her for a training which would have taught her to sift the wheat from the chaff of contemporary opinion. The books she read, she read always with the large interest and enthusiasm of a school-girl, especially books of the Kingsley kind. Accepting "Westward Ho!" as history, she declares the conversion of Lord Ripon to be So unEnglish" and sees in the High Churchman a Jesuit in disguise. She visited convents in Rome, and her idea of the nuns in dedicating their lives to good works is refreshingly unselfish and simple :- Their idea is to pray for those who cannot pray for themselves.' She attended the ceremonies in the churches, ceremonies of which she knew nothing, but of which "she asked, as all Protestants do, how the pure simple Christian religion could possibly be so misrepresented.' So at least we are assured by the biographer, who, it is worth while to note, is a Lutheran minister; and I feel bound to say that the words seem more natural from his lips than from those of the Princess; while, as to the taste of introducing the statement into a volume which ought to belong to the nation at large, I need say nothing at all.' The Princess asserted with all her might the supremacy of the State over the Church-perhaps because her husband asserted it; and her opinion of the un-English" nature. of Lord Ripon's change or development of faith was really an echo of a voice which was, in truth, far less worthy of attention than her own simple thoughts. To live in London and to read the Times every day is the prescription given by an eminent man to secure demoralization of character; and the
reading of the Times, even in dull Darmstadt, was not without its temporary effect upon the principles of the Princess in this particular case of Lord Ripon. How little she really, in her heart, felt that Religion was secondary to State influences and to national prejudice, may be gathered by the pleasure she expresses that the Duke of Edinburgh's Russian wife was to be 'allowed" to keep her own creed, and the asterisks which follow the remarks probably represent some regretful lines about the case of those beautiful princesses, whose religion was held in abeyance with a fine impartiality until a husband should appear to decide it; so that Alexandra and Dagmar married the creeds as well as the crowns of the future heads of the two vitally divergent Greek and Anglican communions.
It is in this volume that the Queen and the Prince Consort have the best tribute that can ever be paid to them. It is here alone, indeed, that many readers will find in the Prince Consort a personality that at all attracts them. The facile logic expressed in those verses of our childhood in which Napoleon tells the English sailor
66 A noble mother must have bred
leads us to conclude that a wise and a tender father must have moulded a daughter so devoted to his memory, and so full of practical sense. A certain dependence on self was early impressed on the royal children. The Swiss cottage at Osborne, with its kitchen, storeroom and gardens, was made the means of their learning how to do household work, and to direct the management of a small establishment. The parents were invited there as guests, to partake of the dishes which the Princesses themselves had prepared; and there too each child was allowed to choose its own occupation and to enjoy perfect liberty. During their free life in the Highlands the children were encouraged to visit the poor. Already, at an early age, Princess Alice felt a good deal drawn to do kindnesses to others. This amiable quality grew more apparent in her as the years went on. Perhaps her somewhat delicate health was one reason why a life of pleasure did not hold out out a full cup
It did not occur
of fascination to her. to her even then that she was exempt from duty, and all the discipline that word implies, because she was born of the blood royal. The really frank "confessions" of a royalty would make curious reading. If, as we have said, the public, seeing its rulers through the media of court circulars and formal flatteries, does not get a very favorable impression of them; on the other hand, what estimate of the people must rulers get who know them mostly as persons who stare, and, on occasion, cheer? As in the spiritual order every man knows the depth of his own misery; so too, every man, and particularly every prince, feels the abyss of the commonplace of his own personality. Weary of themselves, they go forth to drive in the Park, and are surrounded by a crowd which returns home to dine all the more satisfactorily because it has caught a glimpse of the face on which no sign of royalty sits. "Our frivolous upper classes," says the Princess somewhere, and no one can wonder, considering the episodes of royal existence, that she should utter one of those dangerously attractive generalities which. are never wholly true. If the Princess could have followed even the loungers of the Row into their homes, no one more eagerly than she would have admired the serious purpose at many of their hearts. But that is just what a royalty cannot do. And in this circumstance we may find the reason why this Princess and all princesses think their husbands and fathers and sons uniquely wise and superhumanly endowed; they see them, and them only, in their serious moods; and the rest of the world when it is agog. "Private individuals," she writes to her mother, are of course, far the best off-our privileges being more duties than advantages and their absence would be no privation compared to the enormous advantage of being one's own master, and of being on equality with most people, and able to know men and the world as they are, and not merely as they please to show themselves to please us. Thus far the discrimination of the Princess went; but she might have gone on to consider that she had her com. pensations. The only people whom she
could see in their off moments-her own family-became doubly dear and noble to her. Their virtue in her eyes was unique. So entirely was it so in the case of her father (a very ordinary father as fathers go) that his example was enough to waken a kind of religious enthusiasm in her-the fruitful source of kind words and unselfish deeds to the end of her days.
Quite unlike the life of "the frivolous upper classes" was that which the Princess selected to lead. Whenever we think of the Girlhood of the Nation, Professor Ruskin also comes into our thoughts. He it is who, holding inaidens in mind, has spoken of and to them in words as pure and as intimate as is the ideal of womanhood in the heart of man. The nun said to Sir Galahad,
"I, maiden, round thee, maiden, bind my belt.'
And of this Professor Galahad of ours it may be said that he has bound a belt, not of golden hair, but of golden words, round the girls of England. Hewhose praises are as precious as they are generous has praised, but he has also lectured them. "Of all the insolent, all the foolish persuasions that by any chance could enter and hold your empty little heart, this is the proudest and foolishest-that you have been so much the darling of the heavens, and favorite of the fates, as to be born in the very nick of time, and in the punctual place, when and where pure Divine truth has been sifted from the errors of the nations; and that your papa had been providentially disposed to buy a house in the convenient neighborhood of the steeple under which that immaculate and final verity would be beautifully proclaimed. Do not think it, child; it is not so. This, on the contrary, is the fact-unpleasant you may think it; pleasant it seems to me-that you, with all your pretty dresses, and kindly thoughts, and saintly aspirations, are not one whit more thought of or loved by the great Maker and Master than any poor little red, black, or blue savage, running wild in the pestilent woods, or naked on the hot sands of the earth: and that of the two, you probably know less about God than she does; the only difference being that she thinks little of
Him that is right, and you much that is wrong." Now, it is quite true that the Princess Alice, for reasons which appertain to Princesses, and which we have stated already, did no doubt think her papa one of those persons who had bought, or, at least, who inhabited, a house in "the convenient neighborhood" aforesaid. But her resulting limitations were of the most forgivable kind, and there was no one more apt to learn, perhaps under circumstances of exceptional difficulty, the lesson which the Professor teaches. Never from her, lips arose the prayer, Lord, I thank Thee that I am not as other girls are, not in that I fast twice in the week while they feast, but in that I feast seven times a week while they fast." How little she was inclined to rest content with the lofty accidents of her station may be seen on almost every page of her letters, stated naively enough at times. All the natural cleverness and sharpness in the world won't serve nowadays unless one has learnt something. I feel this so much; and just in our position it is more and more required and expected. On another occasion she says to her mother, "I feel so entirely as you do on the differences of rank, and how all-important it is for Princes and Princesses to know that they are nothing better than or above others, save through their own merit; and that they have only the double duty of living for others and being an example-good and modest." Again, touching a deeper chord, she writes: As you say, life at best is a struggle. Happy those who can lie down to rest, having fought their battle well; or those who have been spared fighting it at all, and have remained pure, barely touching this earth, so mixed up with grief and sin." words are those, not only of a woman as humble as Professor Ruskin would have her, but of a mother who had lost a little son.
During the early period of her engagement to Prince Louis of Hesse, the Princess Alice took duty by the side of her sick grandmother, the Dutchess of Kent-shortening evenings which would otherwise have lagged wearily by reading aloud and by playing on the piano. A little later the Prince Consort died,