HL Deb 13 February 1871 vol 204 cc155-8

Her Majesty's most gracious Message of Friday last considered (according to order).


My Lords—In pursuance of the Notice which I gave at the last sitting of the House, I beg to move that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, thanking Her Majesty for her most gracious Message with regard to making provision for Her Royal Highness the Princess Louise, with a view to her intended marriage with the Marquess of Lorne; and assuring Her Majesty that this House will cheerfully concur in such measures as shall be necessary to give effect to the object of Her Majesty's most gracious Message in such a manner as shall demonstrate their affection and attachment to Her Majesty, their just sense of the virtues of Her Royal Highness, and a due regard to the dignity of the Royal Family. It happens, my Lords, that I have had the honour, on three previous occasions, of moving a similar Address with regard to the marriage of daughters of our most gracious Sovereign, and of receiving the unanimous approbation of the House in so doing. Upon the occasions of those Motions expressions were used on both sides of the House which showed a sense of the dignity of the Royal Family, and a warm interest in anything calculated to increase their domestic happiness. My Lords—The anticipations which were indulged in on those occasions have been abundantly fulfilled; and this, I cannot help thinking, has been very much owing to the wise rule laid down by the Queen and the late Prince Consort with regard to the marriage of their children. They would give no sanction to the marriage of their children without direct consultation of their personal feelings and affection. I am sure that your Lordships, in agreeing, as I am confident you will, to this Motion, will feel the same confidence which you expressed on former occasions, that the approaching marriage will increase the domestic felicity of the Royal Family.


My Lords—I am glad that it will not be necessary for me, on the present occasion, to occupy as much of your Lordships' time as on a former evening, for with regard to the Motion now before the House the noble Earl opposite and myself are perfectly agreed. I feel sure that your Lordships will cordially agree to the Motion made by my noble Friend, and will cheerfully concur in making such a provision for the Princess Louise as the House of Commons may think fit and suitable to the dignity of the Crown. We have taken that course, as my noble Friend rightly says, on three former occasions, and I see nothing that should lead us on this occasion to depart from it. It is almost superfluous to say that everything connected with the happiness of the Royal Family must find a hearty response in the breasts of the whole people. I feel sure that your Lordships rejoice at having again an opportunity of reasserting the loyalty and affection which you feel with me for Her Majesty and her family.


thought that all their Lordships would feel that in considering a Royal Message of this nature their reply should not be merely formal, but should evidence the devotion they felt for all that touched their Sovereign—their attachment to her person, and their loyalty to her Crown. Their Lordships would say this had been ably, fully, and eloquently expressed by the noble Earl at the head of the Foreign Office, and by the noble Duke the Leader of the other side. There could be no doubt that he himself (Lord Oranmore and Browne) did not possess the capability of expressing the feeling with half the force which those noble Lords possessed, and, of course, little weight could be attached to what might fall from so humble a Member of their Lordships' House. It should, however, be considered that those noble Lords, who had doubtless expressed what they felt, and what the House all felt, for Her gracious Majesty, even had they thought or felt otherwise, would have said the same; while their position prevented them from giving Her Majesty the benefit of hearing a plain truth, which he believed it was the duty of Parliament to convey to her—for majesty was so hedged round with ceremony that perchance truths patent to all never reached the Royal ears. He thought, therefore, that on an occasion of this kind leave and licence might be given to independent Members like himself to express their opinions; and in doing so he thought he should couple his remarks with certain statements which he trusted would be acceptable, and which his noble Friends, from their position, could not well make. Her most gracious Majesty had now reigned over a happy and contented people above 32 years, and it was but a truism to say the wisdom she had shown as a Queen had only been excelled by the admirable example which, as a mother and woman, she had shown to every woman in her broad dominions. It was appreciation of so much excellence which called forth such a heartfelt outburst of sympathy from all her subjects at the time of her great bereavement. Her subjects felt the loss was their own, from a conviction of how wise a counsellor the lamented Prince Consort had been to Her Majesty. For a considerable time afterwards the people of this country sympathized with the retirement of Her Majesty from public life: the greater, however, our veneration and affection for anyone, the more did we feel a separation from them. It seemed as if a rumour of this had reached the ears of Her most gracious Majesty, and that she then published that delightful "Journal" of her life. Many thought that even the evidence of a life so pure, and kind, and good, should not be exposed to public view, and that it was making so high a position too common; but experience had shown that the Queen was wiser than those who thus thought. She trusted her subjects, and she virtually said to them—"This is the life I have lost; would not your life be blank and cold after such a loss? This is why I have not been among you as usual." The people appreciated the confidence which Her Majesty had placed in them. They felt with her and for her, and longed only the more eagerly again to enjoy the privilege and pleasure of seeing her among them. It was wrong to conceal from Her Majesty that the feeling of disappointment was great that she had not condescended to be seen more by her loyal and loving subjects. It was vain to conceal from ourselves that these were no ordinary times. Many things were now called in question which had long been suffered to remain at rest. There was nothing sacred or human that was not weighed in the balance: men's minds were distorted on religious, social, and political subjects: everything was called into question. The existence of a God, the belief in Christianity, the duties of subjects to their Sovereign, the duties of children to their parents, of husbands to their wives, the relative position of women to men,—nothing was now accepted as an axiom. To preserve, therefore, what was most worth preserving in this country—to preserve those institutions under which we lived, the foundation of which was the devotion and loyalty which all classes in this country felt towards Her Majesty, it was necessary that she should be seen more by her loving people, and many would say that it was audacious of so humble a Member of their Lordships' House to venture to tender advice to the Throne; but he thought he was but performing his duty when he said that it would give great delight to her subjects, and would greatly add to their personal attachment to her, if she would come out more among her subjects. He said so with the most sincere respect and devotion, because he felt that duty obliged him, and Her Majesty had always shown so much wisdom, and such a determination to fulfil every duty of her exalted station, that she would not despise the counsel because it came from a humble source, nor regard the performance of a public duty, by a faithful subject, as an intrusion on her high position. If, moreover, he did not truthfully convey public opinion, he was in the presence of the ablest statesmen, as well as the most polished courtiers, in the realm, who would be able to refute what he had felt it his duty to utter.

Then an humble Address of thanks and concurrence ordered nemine dissentiente to be presented to Her Majesty thereupon: The said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.