HC Deb 06 March 1882 vol 267 cc223-7

Message from The Lords,—That they have agreed to an Address to be presented to Her Majesty, to which they desire the concurrence of this House.

Address to Her Majesty,—That the Message of The Lords, communicating the Address of their Lordships to be presented to Her Majesty, be now taken into Consideration:—And the same was read as followeth:— Most Gracious Sovereign, We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave humbly to express to Your Majesty our horror and indignation at the reckless and wicked attempt made on Thursday last against Your Majesty's sacred Person, and our heartfelt congratulations to Your Majesty and the Country on Your Majesty's happy preservation from danger; and humbly to assure Your Majesty that we make it our earnest prayer to Almighty God that, as He has long preserved to us the blessings that we enjoy under Your Majesty's beneficent Government, He will continue to watch over a Life so highly prized by Your Majesty's loyal subjects.


I rise, Sir, to move that this House do concur in the humble Address to Her Majesty which has been read; and in doing so, the House having heard the terms of the Address, which I believe will command universal concurrence, it is not necessary for me to add more than a very few words. It is always a subject of pain for us to hear that the honoured life of Her Majesty has been exposed to danger, but that pain is deepened into horror when we learn that this danger has been brought into existence by the wilful and wanton act of one of Her Majesty's subjects. It is a grievous and a painful thought, somewhat, however, mitigated by this remarkable consideration—that whereas in other countries similar execrable attempts have at least been made by men of average, or more than average, sense and intelligence, and whereas there the real, or at any rate the supposed, cause has been private grievances or public mischief, in this country, in the case of Her Majesty, they have been wholly dissociated from grievances, wholly dissociated from discontent, and upon no occasion has any man of average sense and average intelligence been found to raise his hand against the life of Her Majesty. On each occasion of the kind morbid minds, combined with the narrowest range of mental gifts, have been the apparent cause by which persons have been tempted to seek a notoriety denied to them in every legitimate walk of life. Sir, Her Majesty has deeply felt that sentiment of thankful- ness which even overpowers and overshadows the sentiment of pain on this occasion. She has felt it, not only for herself, but for those other lives which were wickedly and recklessly exposed, even with a more absolute want of cause or pretext than might be said to be the case in the instance of Her Majesty. The Princess Beatrice, we are rejoiced to learn, has shown on this occasion remarkable courage, together with an entire forgetfulness of herself from her absorption in the attempt upon the life of her illustrious Mother. It would not have been according to usage, and it would, perhaps, have formed an inconvenient precedent, had we proposed to Parliament to include in this Address reference to any other life than that of the Queen. But I am sure that the sentiment which is experienced by Her Majesty of joy at the deliverance of others from the danger is likewise one that finds its place in the minds of every one of us. Well, Sir, having expressed our horror and indignation at the attempt upon the life of Her Majesty, we must all rejoice to see the testimonies which that nefarious attempt has brought forth from every quarter of the globe. Not from this country alone, and not from Her Majesty's subjects alone, but from every nation of civilized mankind there has been conveyed to Her Majesty the expression of the very same feelings with which we ourselves are animated. It is now for us to give formal and authentic utterance to these feelings in the shape of this Address—an Address which, I behave, could not, even if it were couched in the most florid terms, go beyond the real and sincere sentiments of every Member in the House. We shall thus convey to Her Majesty, in a solemn and authentic form, the assurance which, in one sense, indeed, She does not need, for She is well aware of the feelings which govern us in this matter; but which will, at least, form a public record of the price that is set by the whole of Her subjects represented in the Commons' House of Parliament upon the continuance of Her Majesty's precious life and of Her beneficent reign—a reign already prolonged beyond that of any other Queen in this country, but destined, as all of us must hope, to still count many happy years of prosperity and blessing to the nation. I beg to move, "That this House do concur in the Address which has been adopted by the House of Lords."


Sir, I am quite sure it is unnecessary for me to add any words to those which have fallen from the Prime Minister expressing our concurrence in this Address. It is now 40 years since this House was called upon to address Her Majesty in somewhat similar language, and those 40 years having strengthened Her hold upon the affection and gratitude of her people, the feelings which animated our Predecessors animate us even more strongly still. We all know with what incredulous surprise we heard in the first instance the other night the news of an attack upon Her Majesty; with what anxiety we learnt that it had been of a character to endanger Her precious life, and with what relief and thankfulness we received the news that no injury had actually been sustained. I am sure we all feel with the Prime Minister additional cause for thankfulness that the Princess Beatrice should have shared in the escape of the Queen from this great danger. One so justly loved and admired as Her Royal Highness deserves, and will receive, our deepest sympathy. But it is especially to Her Majesty's escape that we turn our thoughts. We cannot but feel that She, who has always been so prompt in the expression of her sympathy for others, has a claim upon our sympathy independently even of considerations of loyalty; and when my right hon. Friend speaks of the expressions of sympathy that have come from every part of the civilized world, we cannot but feel that it would indeed be surprising if a Sovereign who has commanded so much of the respect and admiration, and even the affection, of foreign nations, and who has never been slow to express her sympathy with any misfortune that may have befallen other nations with whom we are in alliance—it would be strange indeed if She had not received this assurance from us. I will say nothing more, except that I cordially echo and support the Resolution now submitted to the House.

Then the said Address being read a second time;

Resolved, Nemine Contradicente, That this House doth agree with The Lords in the said Address to be presented to Her Majesty.

And the blank therein was filled up with the words "and Commons."

Ordered, That a Message be sent to The Lords, to acquaint their Lordships that this House hath agreed to the Address to which The Lords desired the concurrence of this House, and have filled up the blank with the words "and Commons;" and that the Clerk do carry the said Message.

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