Sir, before the Orders of the Day are reached, and in 1176 conformity with the loyal and immemorial usage of this House, I rise to make the Motion of which Notice has been given in my name. The intelligence which reached this country on Friday afternoon, of the sudden and absolutely unexpected death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Albany, when it was made known, gave a sharp and painful shock to the whole feeling of the nation. Her Majesty the Queen is well aware, from experience, that the joys and sorrows of the Royal Family are the joys and sorrows of the country; and so well is that understood and established, that it could hardly be said that there was a formal necessity for an expression of fooling by this House in order to give an assurance of it. But we should ill do justice, I am sure, to the sentiments which every Member of this House entertains in his own breast, were we to omit to carry to the Throne an assurance of the expression of our warm sympathy and our deep concern on the announcement of a calamity, with respect to which, undoubtedly, the suddenness has been a very great aggravation of the blow. We cannot look upon the case of His Royal Highness the Duke of Albany as that of a person who carries no mark except that of high descent and lofty station. The Duke of Albany has been taken from us and from his family at a period which, perhaps, most of all appeals to the natural sentiment of the human heart. When those are removed from this mortal scene who have reached advanced age, even though a sentiment of regret may gather round them, yet it is felt, at any rate, that their work is done. When, in extremely early life, it is the will of Providence to cut the thread of that life before the bud has in any degree opened into flower, deep regret is felt; but, at the same time, no one can measure the loss experienced. But in the case of the Duke of Albany, he had reached an age sufficient to indicate to the country that it had in him a Prince in every way worthy of the highest associations of his station, and possessed of every capacity and every desire to do good service to his country. The Duke of Albany's mental gifts were indeed of no common order, and they had been carefully cultivated from his youth upwards by the assiduous care of his parents, and cultivated, also, and latterly with yet greater effect, by his 1177 own mental determination. He was a person in whose case it could not be said that the possession of a Princedom was likely to be a barren and idle distinction. His whole idea of his position was in its association with public duty and with public service, and both the gifts which it had pleased Providence to bestow upon him and the cultivation which had been incessantly applied to them gave the richest and most certain promise that, if it had been happily permitted to us to have witnessed a prolonged career in his case, that; career would have been marked in every point of its progress by acts as well as by words, which would have given him an honourable place in the history of his country. Sir, the Duke of Albany, both from his rich endowments, and likewise from the cultivation of those endowments, recalls in no small degree the memory of his illustrious Father; and I think that those who have made themselves acquainted with the sentiments of the Duke of Albany upon the various occasions upon which he has appeared before portions of his fellow-countrymen, for the purpose of putting forward some great public object, will have been pleased to trace, both in the general turn of mind and even in the form of expression—in the whole shape and manner of proceeding —that the Father was in a certain sense revived in the Son. Sir, under these circumstances, it will be felt that the words of the Address to be presented by the House of Commons will carry with them an unusual force and meaning. The primary object of that Address, of course, is Her Majesty the Queen, whose motherly feelings have received, upon this occasion, so severe a shock, and who is thrown back by this sudden loss upon the recollection of others not less, and in one sense even more, crushing. But there is also another Person who is entitled to claim a large share of our sympathy, though, according to the usage of our Constitution, we approach her only through the Sovereign — I mean the Duchess of Albany. The Duke of Albany had, within a period comparatively recent, assumed the position of the head of a family; and it is well-known to the world that, in the choice he made, he exhibited that sound judgment and that careful discernment which are so important in the case of every marriage, 1178 but most of all in the case of the marriage of persons of high social distinction. The short experience which this country has had of the Duchess of Albany has sustained the opinion and judgment which had already been formed by those most intimately concerned on the ground of their previous knowledge, and has amply shown that she was well qualified both to fill her high position as a British Princess and likewise to fulfil the duties of a Wife and Mother— the wife of a man of the high character and distinguished gifts of the Duke of Albany. Upon her, indeed, the blow has fallen with unusual severity. It is very little we can do by this Address, either for Her Majesty or for the Duchess of Albany, for the purpose of mitigating such an affliction. They look, without doubt, to higher consolation than any that human heart or human kindness can administer, to be their true support in such a grievous contingency. But yet there is something, Sir, in the sympathy and concern of a people—there is something in a loyal tribute such as we now propose to carry to the foot of the Throne, and convey to Her Majesty and the Duchess of Albany, with the authority which the Houses of Parliament can give to any expression of their sentiment. That alleviation—at least, such as it is—it will be the desire of every Member of this House to administer, with only regret that it cannot be more effective. But whatever can be done by genuineness, and earnestness, and warmth of sentiment, springing out of the deep, the old, and, I may say, affectionate loyalty to the Throne, will, I am sure, be done, on this occasion, and may a little, if not greatly, avail in the hour of a sad and crushing calamity. I beg, Sir, to move—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to express the deep concern of this House at the great loss which Her Majesty has sustained by the death of His Royal Highness Prince Leopold George Duncan Albert, Duke of Albany, Fourth Son of Her Majesty the Queen, and to condole with Her Majesty on this melancholy occasion; to assure Her Majesty that this House will ever feel the warmest interest in whatever concerns Her Majesty's domestic Relations; and to declare the ardent wishes of this House for the happiness of Her Majesty and of Her Family. That this House do condole with Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Albany, on the great loss which she has sustained by the Death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Albany.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I am sure, Sir, that the whole House is rejoiced to think that the right hon. Gentleman has been able to be present with us this evening-, and that it is through the voice of our Leader, and of the great ornament of the House, that I the feelings of the House are conveyed on this sad occasion. Sir, the right hon. I Gentleman has, in his appreciative sketch of the character of him whom we lament, done no more than justice to the great qualities which were as yet not thoroughly developed, but which were being rapidly developed in the Prince whom we have lost. Those who were acquainted with His Royal Highness had always great hopes of his future, and those who have noticed from time to time with how much learning, with how much ability, earnestness, strength, and power of expression he has thrown himself into the various classes of questions in which he has taken an interest, and the appearances which he has made upon public occasions, must have felt that we had in him one for whom, indeed, much was to have been hoped and expected. Nor is this all. We also know that His Royal Highness, though he might have found, in very delicate health, an excuse for shrinking from work and public life, was one who was bent upon making a mark for himself; and he would, I am sure, have made a great and notable mark upon the position and history of this country. But though there are various topics which suggest themselves at such a moment as this with regard to the Prince whom we have lost, I feel sure that the one great feeling which dominates all others in the mind of the House and of the country is the feeling of sympathy with those who are the two chief mourners in this calamity—the widowed Mother and the widowed Wife. Sir, upon such occasions as the present we feel towards the Queen rather in her private than in her public character—if, indeed, it be possible to separate the two in a character so singularly blended and so marked as is that of Her Majesty for the association of public duty with private affection. Who has an affectionate, sensitive, and sympathetic nature; yet she has never allowed her own sorrows either to deter her from the fulfilment of her public duties, or to kill the sentiment of sympathy with others. She is emphatically 1180 one of those whom sorrow has not made selfish. We feel that, with one who is herself so forward in sympathy, it is no idle act to condole, for we know, by what she feels for others, how she appreciates that which others feel for her. One word more, perhaps, I may be permitted to say. The life of His Royal Highness the Duke of Albany, who has been taken from us, has been one which has been marked by much of suffering, and by many near approaches to the end which has at last come upon him. That gave him a greater interest, perhaps, in the eyes of all who saw, or knew, and watched him; and certainly must have done so in the hearts of those who were nearly related to him. From time to time we were in suspense lest the blow was about to fall; yet time after time he was restored to us, and, rejoicing in the thought that he had in her whom he had taken as his Consort a worthy and affectionate helpmate, we had just begun to think that his health was established, and that there was before him a happy, a peaceful, and a useful life, when suddenly the prospect which contained our hopes has been so rudely shattered. But in our sorrow we are glad to know that she who has come among us as the Bride of one of England's most distinguished sons will feel that the sympathies of England are extended to her, England's adopted Daughter. I beg. Sir, to second the Resolution which the Prime Minister has proposed.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Resolved, Nemine Contradicente, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, to express the deep concern of this House at the great loss which Her Majesty has sustained by the death of His Royal Highness Prince Leopold George Duncan Albert, Duke of Albany, Fourth Son of Her Majesty the Queen, and to condole with Her Majesty on this melancholy occasion:
§ To assure Her Majesty that this House will ever feel the warmest interest in whatever concerns Her Majesty's domestic Relations; and to declare the ardent wishes of this House for the happiness of Her Majesty and of Her Family.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors.
§ Resolved, Nemine Contradicente, That this House I do condole with Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Albany, on the great loss which she has sustained by the Death of His Royal Highness the Duke of Albany.
§ Ordered, That a Message of Condolence be sent to Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Albany, and that the Marquess of Stafford and the Earl of March do attend Her Royal Highness with the said Message.— (Gladstone.)