HL Deb 18 June 1888 vol 327 cc383-7

, who rose amid deep silence, the Mem- bers of the House uncovering, said: My Lords, I rise to move that an Address be presented to Her Majesty expressive of the sympathy of this House at the great calamity under which She is suffering, and also that an Address be presented to Her Imperial Majesty the Empress of Germany expressing to Her Imperial Majesty our deep condolence. My Lords, we offer the expression of our sympathy and condolence, but there is no cause that we should enter largely into the grounds that move us, or dwell much upon the calamity that is leading us to this action; for the sorrow which is felt for the death of the Emperor of Germany, and the praises of his life, are in every mouth and are written in a thousand columns. My Lords, Her Majesty may well feel the deepest grief at the loss that has overtaken her. Grief at a bereavement, at a loss, is proportionate to the expectations that have been legitimately formed; and never were expectations formed more sanguinely, or with more apparent justification, than the expectations which attended the future career of the Emperor who is borne to his grave to-day. It seems as though there had been accumulated upon his head every possible qualification for a life of glorious, splendid, and peaceful usefulness. Great experience, true aptitude and courage in war, high reputation for culture and for knowledge in the arts of peace, a deep and well-understood sympathy for all the highest and best aspirations of his people, the support of a consort never surpassed in her ability or in her affection and constant enthusiasm for right—all these things seemed to fit him for a career of power and splendid capacity for good, a career that might well have been as prolonged as that of his illustrious father. All these expectations have been dashed by an inscrutable decree. We can only bow to it, and offer our deep sympathy to his Royal relatives for their lamentable loss, and to the Government and people of Germany for the bereavement of a ruler upon whom such high hopes were set. But even with his short reign he has left an example that we may cherish. He has shown under circumstances of singular trial the indomitable spirit by which his race has made the greatness of Germany and its own. He has shown a steady courage which even the grip of a fell disease could never daunt, and a devotion to his duty in circumstances which would have led meaner natures to the abandonment of all hope. He died at his post with the devotion of a soldier, under circumstances which gave none of the encouragement that lightens the soldier's fall. He has left an example which may be of most precious value, not only to Sovereigns who may follow him, but to all sorts and conditions of men; and it is with a feeling that we are performing no act of mere formality in rendering homage to one of the highest and noblest natures that ever adorned a Throne that I move the Addresses that I have now the honour of laying on the Table.


My Lords, I rise to second this Motion, but I can add nothing to the eloquent, pathetic, and unexaggerated remarks which have fallen from the noble Marquess. If it be true, as has been written, that— Death loves a shining mark, a signal blow, seldom has a more shining mark been presented at which death has struck such a blow. The late Emperor was a skilled and daring soldier. His bravery in the field was equalled by the serene courage with which he endured sufferings under most trying circumstances. Both in his military and in his civilian life a high sense of duty was his constant guide. To say of the departed great that they were without faults seems to be vulgar, unmeaning flattery, which cannot be quite true; and yet, having had opportunities during the last 37 years, in Germany, Prussia, and in this country, of closely observing the late Emperor, I could not, even if I wished, recall any defects which marred his straightforward, noble character. This is not an occasion on which to make any political allusions. In my position I could not make any with authority; but yet it is difficult not to give some expression to the general feeling as to the great loss that has accrued to Germany from a limit of some short 14 weeks having been assigned to the reign of this strong, upright, kind-hearted man—one who from his hereditary qualities, his early education, and his constant self-training had given such unusual, such certain promise of being a bene- ficent Ruler of the great Empire to the creation of which he had so largely contributed. It is not easy to pay a greater tribute of praise to a Sovereign who has passed away than the intense regret which has been felt, not only in Germany, not only in this country, where there are reasons for it which it would be superfluous to repeat, not only in the United States, where so many of his countrymen reside, but in Italy, where till lately the German was not popular, in Russia, and especially in France, where there has been such a full acknowledgment of the merits of one who had lately been their successful but generous foe. May we not hope that this fact may lead to kindlier international feelings? Will your Lordships bear with me if I add that, while we greatly deplore the loss of this strong guarantee of European peace, it seems to me that there is no solid ground for the conviction expressed in some quarters as to the certain occurrence of a state of things which the late Emperor would have so deeply deplored? The noble Marquess has strongly expressed—it was impossible for him to express too strongly—the deep sympathy with which we approach our Queen on the loss of such a son-in-law, of one so near and dear to her. It is needless for him or for me to say that that feeling extends in the fullest degree to the Empress Victoria, Her Majesty's first-born child. The people of this country have followed with deep interest the career of Her Imperial Majesty. They have rejoiced at the 30 years of unmixed domestic happiness which she has enjoyed. They have been proud of the wide-world reputation which her character, her attainments, and her exceptional intellectual powers have created for her. They have been deeply touched by the courage, the dignity, and the devotion with which Her Imperial Majesty has tended the sick bed and the death bed of the remarkable man who appreciated and loved her so well, and they fervently trust that God will give her strength to bear the overwhelming blow that has befallen her. I beg to second the Motion. Moved, "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty to express the deep sorrow of this House at the great loss which Her Majesty has sustained by the death of His Imperial Majesty Frederick, German Emperor, King of Prussia, 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."—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, agreed to, nemine dissentiente.

Ordered, that the said Address be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.

Moved to resolve— That this House do condole with Her Imperial Majesty Victoria, German Empress, Queen of Prussia, Princess Royal of Great Britain and Ireland, on the great loss which she has sustained by the death of His Imperial Majesty."—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, agreed to, nemine dissentiente.

Ordered, that a message of condolence be sent to Her Imperial Majesty, and that the Lord Chancellor do communicate the said message to Her Majesty's Ambassador at Berlin, with a request that he will attend the Empress Victoria for the purpose of conveying it to Her Imperial Majesty.

Moved to resolve— That this House desire to express their profound sympathy with the Imperial and Royal Family and with the Government and people of Germany."—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, agreed to, nemine dissentiente.