§ The QUEEN'S SPEECH reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR.
§ THE EARL OF DUDLEY (who wore the uniform of the Worcestershire Yeomanry)
in moving an Address of Thanks in reply to Her Majesty's Gracious Speech, said: My Lords, in rising to move the Address in answer to Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech from the Throne, I would plead with your Lordships for a full measure of that indulgence which is usually accorded to those who address this House for the first time. I will not detain you for a longer time than I can help, but will endeavour to carry out as quickly and as concisely as possible the duty that I now have the honour to perform. My Lords, before dealing directly with the political subjects touched upon in Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech, I feel that I must give expression to the sentiment that I am sure is uppermost in the mind of every member of this august Assembly; a sentiment which appeals to me the more strongly from the fact that it was my father who had the honour of moving the Address in this House the year that their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales were married. For we meet today, my Lords, under circumstances of very exceptional sorrow and solemnity. An event, which for tragic pathos stands unrivalled in the recorded annals of this country, has taken place during the last month; no adjunct is wanting to complete the mournfulness of the picture. One whom we looked on as the future Ruler of this Empire has been cut off in the opening of a life full of the brightest promise: on the very eve of his marriage—a marriage which seemed destined to crown his happiness, and to complete his opportunities for public influence and usefulness. It is not too much to say that the struggle between life and death has been watched with the most intense interest by every subject of Her Majesty—indeed, by the whole civilized world. Nor is it any exaggeration to add that the sad history of that struggle has cast a gloom over public and private 7 life in this country; that it has brought home to us in a most strongly marked form the grave possibilities by which every human undertaking has to be qualified; and that, under the shadow of this national calamity, the energy of political movement, and the acrimony of Party difference has been mitigated for the time; while all alike have joined in no mere formal expression of sympathy and commiseration with those who have to mourn not only a public catastrophe, but a domestic bereavement of a most heartrending character. And though, my Lords, such sympathy can, unfortunately, but to a small extent alleviate the grief which has fallen so heavily upon our Royal House, yet it has furnished, in a way which perhaps less tragic circumstances could not have done, an additional and unmistakeable token of the loyalty and devotion that unites our Rulers to the hearts and affections of their people. This spontaneous outburst of condolence and commiseration is but an illustration of the general recognition that our monarchical institutions are interwoven in the very texture of our national life: that the interests of Sovereign and subject are identical: and that what seriously affects the one cannot but be of vital importance to the other. Turning now, my Lords, to the political subjects dealt with in Her Majesty's Speech, we are pleased to note that the relations of this country with Foreign Powers continue to be of a friendly character. The foreign policy of this country is one that can never lack interest or significance. We have dependencies in most parts of the world, and our connection with them, as well as our wide-spread trade, bring us into relation with a far more extensive range of rights and responsibilities than is the case with any other nation; and it is a matter of sincere congratulation that the many difficulties and complications which must necessarily arise in the maintenance of those rights, and in the discharge of those responsibilities, continue to be arranged by peaceful and diplomatic methods. The firm and consistent policy of the present Government with regard to Egypt, notwithstanding the many difficulties it has had to overcome, and notwithstanding the many 8 criticisms that it has aroused in some quarters, continues to bear nothing but good results. The internal disturbances of that country have gradually subsided; tranquiliety is still maintained; a settled order of things has been established; and any feeling of hostility towards our troops quartered there has now entirely disappeared. Our continued occupation of the country has been made the more necessary through the death of the Khedive and the succession of his son to the Throne. The late Khedive was undoubtedly a man of great power and ability, and his hearty and intelligent co-operation in all our efforts for the establishment of peace and order have had no doubt much to do with the success of those efforts. But, my Lords, not only in Egypt but elsewhere the extension of our trade and colonisation must necessarily cause many small frictions in places where our interests seem to come into collision with those of other States; and I hope that it will not be considered presumptuous on my part if I say that it is owing, to a great extent, to the abilities of one, who, as Foreign Minister, has been rarely equalled and never surpassed, that those frictions have been removed and a good understanding re-established. The peaceful condition of our external affairs has given the time and opportunity necessary for carrying out many useful measures of home legislation—an opportunity which Her Majesty's Government has made full use of during the last year; and it is satisfactory for us now to hear that their efforts in this respect will be continued during the coming Session. The affairs of Ireland have occupied a considerable proportion of the attention of our legislators during the last few years, and Her Majesty now informs us that it is proposed to complete the edifice of social and political amelioration by two very important additions. The first of these is a measure for the advancement of education. The fact that the standard of education in Ireland is much below what it is in this country proves that such a measure is not unnecessary—proves the justice both of the demand that the people of Ireland should be given equal oppor 9 tunities of gaining useful knowledge, and of preparing themselves for their vocations in life; and it is also a matter of importance that they should not, in educating their children, be called upon to make any larger sacrifices in such respects than the inhabitants of England or Scotland. Her Majesty's Irish subjects are by no means wanting in intelligence; they are certainly on an intellectual equality with the people of any other part of the British Isles; but the fact that so large a proportion of the electorate now vote as illiterate, points most strongly to the conclusion that it is their present deficiency in knowledge and information which renders them, hot-headed and excitable as they are by nature, easily liable to be imposed upon and incited to crime by the numerous mischievous agitators who have of late exercised so evil an influence. The second matter with which Her Majesty's Government proposes to deal is that of local government. The desirability of extending the principles of the Local Government Act of 1888 to Ireland is a subject which has caused much discussion, and one on which opinion is by no means even yet unanimous; it must be borne in mind, however, that, until some such extension has been effected, the programme which the present Government laid before the country at the last general election will be incomplete, and a promise very definitely made at the time will be unredeemed. Up to a very short time ago, however, law and order in Ireland were not in a state such as to justify a prudent Government in making any extension of power to the people of that country for the management of their home affairs; and it is now a matter of great satisfaction to us to learn that, in the opinion of those who are responsible for the granting or withholding of such a measure, the time has now arrived when they deem it fit to give the Irish people local powers similar to, if not identical with, those at present possessed by the English counties. That the subject is one which is surrounded by considerable difficulty will be generally admitted, and no measure of this kind is likely to be approved which does not safeguard the rights of the minority, or which 10 does not provide adequate guarantees against the abuse of such powers for the purpose of political agitation. How such objects can best be attained will probably form one of the chief elements of the discussion on the measure; but that they can be attained admits of no reasonable doubt. And, at all events, it would be quite possible to retain the right of dissolving any particular Council that went beyond the discharge of its legitimate functions. And, my Lords, the very fact that such a measure would more completely assimilate the institutions of two closely connected parts of the same nation, gives ground for hope that it would do much to remove any sense of grievance that might now be felt by our Irish fellow-countrymen. Her Majesty also informs us that a Bill for facilitating the process of private Bill legislation for Scotland and Ireland will occupy the attention of Parliament. As the noble Lord who seconds this Address hails from the former country, he will be far more capable of laying the points connected with the Bill before your Lordships than I am; and I would merely say that the aim of such a measure must be to fulfil this primary object, of making it more easy to legislate upon matters of local importance by relieving to some extent the stress of business in Parliament—not depriving that body of any of the rights which it at present possesses. Another subject of very great importance that Her Majesty informs us will be dealt with during the coming Session is that of small holdings. Much is being said, my Lords, about the present state of the rural districts, and statements are being made from time to time with regard to them which would seem to imply that those districts are surely and steadily becoming depopulated: that their inhabitants are gradually betaking themselves from them and migrating to the towns. Such statements, however, contain large elements of exaggeration. As a matter of fact, our rural districts are not becoming depopulated. The population there indeed is not increasing, but neither is it diminishing; it is rather in a stationary state; and it is only the natural surplus that is seeking for employment elsewhere. The pre 11 liminary Report of the Census in April last conclusively proves this; for it shows that, so far from the population of the rural districts decreasing, it has increased by over 3 per cent. during the last decade; and, although this is much below the rate of increase in the town districts during the same period, it is satisfactory to note that it is considerably higher than what it was in the ten years between 1871 and 1881. Still, though such statements are exaggerated, they are relative to a real evil, and one which cannot but cause great anxiety. There is no doubt that farmers find it increasingly difficult to get labour, and that this difficulty is mainly due to the fact that among those who migrate from the country to the towns a large proportion is composed of the stronger and more energetic young men, who naturally would expect to find employment in the districts in which they have been brought up. Such a state of things in the present depressed state of agriculture is very serious; for, owing to foreign competition and other causes, agricultural products are already so heavily handicapped that, if additional obstacles are thrown in their way, there is a danger of the less fertile parts of the country going out of cultivation altogether. Nor is this a subject which concerns agriculture alone; but it is one of great national importance as well; for the concentration of large masses of our population in the principal towns cannot but have an injurious effect upon its general physique, owing to the less healthy conditions of life there. It is then as a contribution to the solution of this very difficult problem that the proposed measure is especially to be welcomed; for, although many causes contribute to the restlessness which leads so many of our agricultural labourers to seek for employment elsewhere—for instance, the greater facilities for travelling afforded by the extension of our railway communication, and the craving for increased interests and excitements engendered by the advance of education—one cause undoubtedly is the fact that the conditions of their life in the country do not provide sufficient objects or prospects of ambition. However industrious or capable an agricultural labourer may be, he is not likely, 12 under ordinary circumstances, to rise above the social grade in which he was born; and, as his wages are hardly more than sufficient for bare subsistence, he has nothing to look forward to in his old age but dependence on his friends, or on parochial relief. Such a state of things is naturally galling; and if by a measure of this kind a prospect is opened up to the better class of agricultural labourer of securing an independent and improved livelihood, an important step will have been taken towards keeping him attached to the soil. It may be objected, indeed, that if our large farmers, with all the advantages of capital and labour-saving machinery, find it difficult, even in the present state of things, to make ends meet, it will be doubly difficult for those who are without such advantages. But the fact must be taken into consideration that a man will bestow double the energy and patience on work that is done for his own immediate benefit that he will on that which he is paid to do for another; and it is possible that the wish to obtain that comfort and independence will supply a stimulus to extra exertion, such as will overcome the difficulties which he has to encounter. At any rate, there seems to be a wide-spread feeling amongst the agricultural classes themselves that such success is possible; and the good results that would ensue, if this prove to be the case, are sufficient justification for making an attempt in this direction—an attempt made the more easy because the large amount of land, easily available for purposes of such a kind, does away with the difficult subject of forced sale within the scope of its operation. In connection with this subject of labour, my Lords, there is a suggestion which, with all diffidence, I should like to make. Would it not be possible to utilize Irish labour for agricultural purposes more largely than is at present the case? In some parts of England, easily accessible from Ireland, a great proportion of farm work, during a part of the year, is done, and excellently well done, by Irish labourers, who cross the Channel for that purpose, and then return home again. Would it not be possible to extend this system more 13 widely, and, by means of agents in Holyhead or Dublin, to engage labour for those parts of the country where the need of it is most keenly felt? There is, I believe, a considerable .amount of Irish labour available for such a purpose, much more than is at present made use of; and it might be worth while considering whether there are any insuperable obstacles in the way of supplying, in such a manner, at any rate some small portion of our present deficiency. My Lords, nothing remains for me now but to express to you my most sincere gratitude for the kind and patient way in which you have listened to me this afternoon. If I have not entered at greater length into some of the subjects dealt with in Her Majesty's Speech, my excuse must be that I have endeavoured to avoid wearying this House by a reiteration of matter already well known to your Lordships—indeed, some of the subjects need no comment to emphasize their importance. I now, my Lords, beg to move the Motion which stands in my name.
Moved, "That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as followeth:—
Most Gracious Sovereign,—
We, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the gracious speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
We take this first opportunity of offering to Your Majesty our sincere condolence in the afflicting dispensation of Providence with which Your Majesty and this Nation has been visited in the death of His Royal Highness Prince Albert Victor Duke of Clarence and Avondale.
We assure your Majesty of our most heart-felt participation in the universal feeling of sympathy with Your Majesty and Your Majesty's family under this grievous affliction, and in the deep sense entertained by all classes of Your Majesty's subjects of the calamity which this Country has sustained by the loss of a Prince who had won for himself the general affection and regard of Your Majesty's subjects."—(The Earl of Dudley.)
§ LORD LAMINGTON (who wore the uniform of the Lanarkshire Yeomanry)
said: My Lords, on rising to second 14 the Address to the Throne, proposed by the noble Earl, I have to ask you to extend to me your utmost forbearance. I would first of all pray to be allowed to join the noble Lord in the tribute of homage which he has paid to the memory of a Prince who, by the blamelessness of his life and the pathos of his death, has established for himself a personality in the pages of English history, and a throne in every English heart. Born, as he was, in a position which gave him all the world for his critic, all posterity for his audience, it was a subject of deep thankfulness to the Nation that he should have so aptly learnt the lessons of life taught him by his illustrious parents, and, above all, that he should have responded so fully to those hopes and affections which Her Majesty has lately told us she had centred in him. Many may have thought that at such a moment any outward expression of their sympathy was almost an impertinence; but Her Majesty, in that gracious letter so full of womanly tenderness, has allayed all such fears by telling her faithful people how deeply she felt the throb of grief which stirred to its depths the heart of her Empire. My Lords, there is one figure supremely present in our national sorrow: that of the young Princess whom this month the Duke of Clarence would have made his wife. Upon sorrow such as hers we dare not intrude, except to assure her that the joy with which we regarded her betrothal is only equalled by the sympathy which we would offer her. My Lords, Her Majesty has given us in the Speech the satisfactory assurance that her relations with foreign Powers continue on the same friendly footing on which they have been established by Her Majesty's Government. As the noble Earl has well said, it is indeed a matter for congratulation that our policy abroad is directed by so masterly a hand, that not only have many difficulties been overcome, but no fresh complications have been permitted to arise. The death of Tewfik Pasha, Khedive of Egypt, a loyal ally of England and a faithful ruler of his people, is an event that we all deplore. Since his accession to power he had rendered to his country the inestimable benefits of the reduction of taxation, the protec 15 tion of the fellaheen, and the development of its splendid natural resources. For these objects he had worked in the most perfect harmony with England, and there was, therefore, reasonable ground for anxiety lest his death should check the remarkable increase of prosperity which no observer has failed to recognize and appreciate. Happily, however, his son and successor Abbas has inaugurated his reign by declaring at the first meeting of the Legislative Council that his highest wish is to further the good work begun by his father. Not very long ago our neighbours across the Channel were encouraged to believe that our friendly interest in Egypt was about to cease; but the proposers of this course of action speedily ascertained that their suggestions were not acceptable, even to their own partizans, and now it is eminently satisfactory to note that at this moment the general consensus of opinion is practically unanimous in approving the views of Her Majesty's Government. When the French refused to co-operate in crushing the rebellion of Arabi they lost all claim to object to our remaining to assist in the regeneration of the country, as has been frankly owned to by French statesmen, and by M. Jules Ferry in particular. The interests of the Sultan of Turkey are alone materially concerned, and we have every reason to believe that His Imperial Highness not merely acquiesces in, but welcomes the continuance of our influence in Egypt, as both productive of unexampled benefit to the country and also as a safeguard to his own suzerainty. We have received with pleasure the intelligence that Zanzibar has taken its place amongst the free ports of the world. In all probability it will now attract to itself the bulk of the East African trade, and may rival in time to come even Singapore or Hong Kong as one of the great distributors of the world's commerce. My Lords, last Session I ventured to draw your attention to a more remote part of the world, the kingdom of Siam. My apprehensions then stated, if they have not been fully borne out by subsequent events (for I have not certain information on the point), have at least been recently justified by the declaration of M. Ribot, in 16 the French Chamber, that the French claimed all territory east of the Mekong River. It would take too long for me to discuss now these pretensions, so far as they affect the Siamese possessions on the lower portion of the Mekong; but I am anxious to point out, in all brevity, their importance with regard to the upper waters of that river. And please believe, my Lords, that I venture to do this, not in the slightest because I have personally visited this region, but because I know that the future of Indo-China is a matter of paramount interest to all Europeans there settled, and to many in our commercial circles at home. At present the eastern frontier of Burmah rests on the Mekong; but there is a small State adjacent, the greater part of which lies on the eastern or left bank of that river. That State, by our conquest in the last Burmese War, became by rights tributary to us, and the chief and his people are most desirous of coming under British suzerainty. But the Indian Government, with commendable caution, hesitated to extend their responsibility over a country distant by a journey of several weeks from their nearest post, and which, till just about this day last year, had never been visited by an European. But if we were to give this, State the benefit of our protection (which in no way could be construed into an act of aggression) two material advantages would result. First of all, in place of having a river boundary, which is always liable to be a fruitful source of dissension, a chain of mountains, passable only at perhaps two points, would form the line of demarcation, excluding for the future any likely risk of trouble or friction. Secondly, our presence on the east bank of the Mekong would afford a moral support to the northern States of Siam. My Lords, I have put the case with extreme brevity, and, I fear, not very graphically; nor have I argued it in all its bearings; but I trust that by inviting your Lordships' attention to the matter, the Government may consider favourably the suggestion I have had the honour to submit. I would now remind your Lordships of the Indian Councils Bill, to which you will again be asked to give your approval. 17 As your Lordships will remember, this Bill proposes to give power to the Viceroy of India to increase the numbers of the Legislative and Provincial Councils, and also to regulate the conditions for the nomination of members to the Council; it proposes to give to the Legislative Council the right to discuss questions of finance which, at present, they only possess under special circumstances; and it further gives to the Council the privilege of interpellation to the Government of India, subject to the restraining authority of the Viceroy. It is to be earnestly hoped that this Session those who have the conduct of business in another place will take care that this measure becomes law, as it has been long and carefully considered by the Indian Government, who are most desirous that Her Majesty's Indian subjects should possess this gradual and judicious extension of responsibility. My Lords, may I say a few words with regard to our Colonial Empire? There has been a movement on foot to devise a representative system to connect the Colonies more closely with the Mother Country, and it is expected that a scheme for the common defence of the Empire may be evolved. Be that as it may, this movement in itself has proved that citizens at home, and citizens beyond the seas, are united by the strongest ties of sympathy, and, as Anglo-Saxons, are proud of belonging to the nation that has carried civilization to the uttermost ends of the earth. Without such a patriotic feeling any mere artificial enactment would be worthless, and for this reason we hail with peculiar pleasure the emphatic testimony recently borne by our Australian kinsmen to the policy of Her Majesty's present Ministry, as having been most conciliatory and eminently calculated to develop our common hopes and interests. Turning our attention homewards, I would act on the friendly suggestion of the noble Earl, and invite your attention to a measure dealing with Scotch Private Bill procedure. It is generally agreed now-a-days that it is desirable to decentralize, so far as is consistent with efficiency; and this not only for the convenience of those immediately concerned, but because 18 the devolution of business tends to strengthen local ties and national associations, and thus checks the gravitation of all interests to the Metropolis. We may assume that special difficulties connected with this measure have been overcome. One difficulty lay in the composition of the body who were to be selected to adjudicate; and, secondly, although in the promotion of minor Bills, such as those connected with water and gas, there would have been a great reduction of cost, yet it was thought that the promotion of Railway Bills would have led to a heavier expenditure than is even now the case. As the Scottish people are eagerly awaiting the passing of this measure, it is to be hoped that there will be no further delay in its becoming the law of the land. This Bill will apply equally to Ireland, and with the two proposed measures for Local Government and Education, on which the noble Earl has dwelt so ably and exhaustively, is an earnest that Her Majesty's Government hope to give to Ireland the promised legislative privileges identical, so far as circumstances will permit, with those which England and Scotland already enjoy. But it is to be remarked that it is the peaceable state of Ireland that entitles her to this extension of control in the management of her own local affairs. We cannot credit the present tranquil aspect of the country (so vast a change from the chaos of a few years ago) to the unrealised hopes of the divided Irish Party, who were wont to attribute any improvement in the condition of Ireland to the near prospect of the separation of her Parliament from that of Great Britain. Surely, my Lords, the real cause of the bright aspect which Ireland now bears is that whilst every effort has been made to ameliorate and raise the condition of her peasantry, the dignity and impartiality of the law has been unhesitatingly upheld by the statesman to whose tenure of office Ireland wil ever look back with gratitude and pride. I am, certain that there are no people more capable of developing a spirit of loyalty when their ignorance is not traded on by unscrupulous agitation, and when they are freed from the terrorism which one of our greatest 19 living politicians has said can only exist by the sanction of murder. My Lords, we are told that the phantom of Home Rule will again assume a corporeal existence, and will one day knock at the doors of this House. Woe unutterable is predicted should your Lordships then bar its progress to the steps of the Throne. I am confident that your Lordships will never refuse to listen to the wish of the people when calmly determined and clearly delivered. But, unless you were convinced that this wish were universal and genuine, you would only be fulfilling the trust reposed in you by refusing to make law a measure that you deemed destructive. Should it then please those in another place to pass Resolutions threatening the existence of this House, no objection I imagine would be raised here to them thus harmlessly disposing of their time. My Lords, the proposals mentioned in Her Majesty's Speech having particular reference to England,—such as the completion of the Local Government Act, the relieving of the Elementary Public Schools from the pressure of local rates, and the proposal to give powers for strengthening authority in the Church of England—are all of them proposals likely to meet with your Lordships' approval. But in this, the last decade of the century, many questions are raised which involve, or would involve, great changes in the social economy of Great Britain. We are expressly bidden by Her Majesty to consider a measure for increasing the number of small holdings. The main principle of the Bill will be to empower the Local Authorities to advance money to the would-be purchasers of these holdings. It is thought that thus the labourer who has put by some money would be enabled to indulge in the very natural desire of acquiring some of the land—and the foundations of a peasant proprietary would be established. This marks another instance of the sympathy of Her Majesty's Government with the agricultural population. It must not be assumed that the proposed measure will solve the problem of the crowding of people from the rural districts into towns; nor would it be wise to interfere sharply with the working of the natural laws of supply and demand. At the present 20 time the high scale of wages in our towns, mining districts, and colonies attracts the country population; but if this movement were to be entirely arrested, it would necessarily follow that the increased facilities of commanding agricultural labour would mean the reduction of agricultural wages, which we are told are already too low; whilst the proportionate rise in the scale of wages in the towns would increase the difficulties of competing with the foreign manufacturers. Even in my own recollection, near to where I live, I have known whole villages abandoned, with the result, of course, of largely increased wages to those who remain. But it has often seemed to me that a complex yet natural process is at work, by which a proportion of the rural population drifts into the towns, where they profit by the blessing of our great principle of Free Trade, and thus, in due course of time, reappear in the country in the character of feu or villa holders. This Bill, therefore, without revolutionizing the existing order of things, will multiply the number of those who have a personal and permanent stake in the country. It is satisfactory that compulsory purchase is not contemplated, for, as the noble Earl has said, there is plenty of land in the market of every quality and quantity; and it is to be hoped also that purchasers under this Bill will be restricted to those who are bonâ fide workers of the soil. My Lords, the Government are right to approach this and kindred subjects, such as the general question of labour, in a tentative and inquiring spirit. The best manner for arriving at sound conclusions is for an Administration, by keeping its finger on the pulse of the people, to ascertain their aims and impulses, and then to try and formulate the ideas that have been broached. The most fruitful seed will be that which the Government plants in a soil that has been turned and returned by its people. My Lords, Her Majesty's Ministers have now for nearly six years laboured to fulfil the responsibilities of their offices, and they have their full reward in the humble belief that Her Majesty appreciates their efforts to maintain the dignity of her Empire, and to foster the welfare of all 21 her subjects. Therefore, in seconding the Motion for the Address, I am confident that your Lordships will respond fully and loyally to the Royal Message, which Her Majesty has to-day conveyed to her faithful Parliament.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
My Lords, before touching upon some of the points raised by Her Majesty's Gracious Speech, I have a very agreeable duty to perform, namely, to express, what I am sure is the general sense of the House, the pleasure and satisfaction at the way in which the Mover and Seconder of the Address have discharged their duties, and especially I must say that, in common I know with many on this side of the House, we heard with the greatest pleasure the speech of the noble Earl the proposer—a speech characterised, I may venture to say, with unusual ability, when speeches are made on an occasion of this kind. And personally, the noble Earl will allow me to say that, having been an old friend of his father, I welcome his taking part in the debates of this House, and trust that he will become a very useful and constant attendant on our business. With regard to the noble Lord who seconded the Address, we have all had the pleasure before of hearing him speak in this House, and we know that he is perfectly able to hold his own, and promises to be a very useful Member of it. My Lords, I have now to turn to a very different topic; one which was admirably dealt with by the proposer of the Address—I mean the melancholy and calamitous event which is the subject of the first paragraph of Her Majesty's Speech. My Lords, the feeling towards the Queen, one of unabated loyalty, and perhaps I may be allowed to say of affectionate regard on the part of all her people, is such that it would always secure that, in any calamitous event occurring to the Royal Family, the deepest sympathy would be felt with Her Majesty and with Her Majesty's family. But as the noble Earl in moving the Address observed, no circumstance was wanting in this sad event to give it the most tragic colour. My Lords, the young Prince, whose loss we deplore, was the eldest son of the Heir Apparent to the Throne, with the brightest prospects before him in life, 22 and upon the very eve of contracting what doubtless would have proved a most happy marriage. Such an event, even in private life, must have evoked the widest sympathy; but happening, as it does, to one placed in so conspicuous a situation, and connected with the family towards whom we feel so strongly in affection and respect, it has evoked the universal sympathy of the whole British Empire. My Lords, those who have had the honour of an acquaintance, however slight, with the late Duke of Clarence and Avondale, must have observed what a gentle and kindly disposition he possessed; and those who have heard him, upon the few occasions when he appeared before the public, must have seen that he showed distinct promise of qualities which would certainly have enabled him to discharge afterwards the duties of his high position with efficiency, with satisfaction to himself, and with benefit to the country over which, perhaps, he would have eventually been the Sovereign. My Lords, in such circumstances as these no consolation which we can offer can, I fear, have much effect; but I am certain that, as throughout the Empire, so in this House, there is the deepest feeling of sympathy towards Her Majesty the Queen, sympathy with the afflicted parents of the Duke of Clarence and Avondale, and with the Princess whose hopes were so cruelly blighted by this terrible calamity. My Lords, I turn now to the matters of business dealt with in this Speech. I entirely concur with the noble Lords in the satisfaction which we all must feel in hearing that our relations are of friendly nature with all Foreign Powers. My Lords, there is an allusion which is most fitly made in the Speech to the loss which has been sustained, and which we especially have sustained by the death of the Khedive of Egypt. The Khedive was a ruler who, by his simple and blameless life, by his great regard for the interests of the people over whom he ruled, and by his singular freedom from intrigue, and his straightforwardness in his dealings with all Powers with whom he had to do, commanded general respect; and his loss is one which will be very widely lamented. With regard to the future, 23 the noble Lord who seconded the Address entered somewhat largely into the Egyptian question. I do not think this would be a wise opportunity to raise a controversy on this subject. Just at this moment, when there is a change in the ruler of that country, the moment clearly would not be well chosen for expressing the opinions, whatever they may be, which we hold upon this subject. At the same time, I must not be held to acquiesce in all, or indeed in much, that the noble Lord the Seconder of the Address said on this subject. My feeling is this: I agree with the paragraph of the Speech in the hope that the new Khedive will follow in the steps of his predecessor, and I trust that he will, by a sagacious conduct of the administration of Egypt, secure—what I believe is wished, not only by ourselves, but by all the Powers interested in Egypt—that that country should be placed in such a position that its Government should have a firm basis, and that it should be able to sustain itself alone, without foreign assistance. And, for my part, I do not believe that there are any in this country who do not look forward to the time when we shall be able, in accordance with our obligations, which have been acknowledged by all parties, to terminate the occupation of Egypt, which has been productive of much benefit I am sure, and of great blessings to that country, but the long continuance of which, I believe, is fraught with great disadvantages to our own country. My Lords, I notice an omission in the Speech, which I regret, namely, that there is no mention of Newfoundland. I had hoped that possibly the exertions of Her Majesty's Government might have been crowned with success, and that we might have heard that large progress had been made in settling that continued difficulty; but I am afraid that the fates are against us as usual in this matter, and that Her Majesty's Government will bequeath what I may term a sort of Chancery suit of diplomacy to their successors, whoever they may be. As to the Behring Straits matter, all of us must have seen with great satisfaction that an agreement had been come to with the United States, and 24 that the matter is to be dealt with by arbitration. Now, my Lords, I turn to matters of domestic interest, and I am not surprised to find that in the forefront is placed the promise of a measure of Local Government for Ireland. I am not surprised, because, no doubt, Her Majesty's Government have always announced that they would extend to Ireland the same, or some similar measure of local government as that which has been given in England. But whether that satisfaction with which we view the introduction of such a measure will be equally shared by those who support the noble Marquess, I cannot help feeling some doubt. If the measure is one which is a real measure of local government, and which is not fenced with those guarantees and securities, to which one of the noble Lords alluded, in so elaborate a manner as to render it practically a sham; if, I say, it is a real measure of local government, it will be welcomed with pleasure on this side of the House, not only on account of the advantages which we believe there would be in the improvement of the local government of Ireland, which all know to be exceedingly defective, but also we take a view (which I do not think is so generally shared, or if it is felt on the other side cannot be felt with very great pleasure) that nothing is more likely to further that Home Rule which is a portion of our policy than the constitution of this local government in Ireland. Therefore, in any event, we view it with satisfaction. We hope the measure will pass. We believe that one of two things will happen: either that it will be a satisfactory measure and will, so far as it goes, strengthen our policy in Ireland, or, if it should turn out to be a measure which has very little real substance in it, it will be likely to increase dissatisfaction in Ireland, and, in that way also, to further the policy which we have at heart. Now, there is another matter which the noble Lords justly alluded to as one of great importance, and one which does not bear quite so much a Party character as the one which I have been referring to: I mean the measure dealing with Irish education. Irish education, all who know that country know, is not now in 25 a satisfactory position. There was a time when the system of education in Ireland was somewhat in advance of the system in England; but since that time we have made great progress. No one can doubt that some reform is required in the educational system in Ireland. Her Majesty's Government have, no doubt, been compelled to address themselves to the subject because there is a sum of money which has to be distributed in Ireland, which I believe at present remains in the hands of the Treasury, if I am rightly informed. But I observe there is this difference between Ireland and England in this matter: we were always of opinion, I believe on both sides of the House, that one of the chief reasons why it was desirable to give what is called free or assisted education (I do not quarrel about the word) in England and Scotland was that we had compulsory education in England and Scotland, and that, therefore, it was reasonable that those who were compelled to send their children to school should not have to pay a fee for sending them there—but hitherto education has never been compulsory in Ireland, and I shall be extremely anxious to see whether Her Majesty's Government intend to introduce the compulsory system into that country. But I cannot congratulate the Government, in one sense, for having that measure in hand; for I think they will find it is about one of the most thorny subjects they can have to deal with in that country; and I shall be exceedingly curious to see whether the loyalty of some of the hot Orangemen in Ireland will stand the test of accepting a measure which would compel them to send their children to schools very largely attended by children of their Roman Catholic countrymen. But, while I say this, I wish well to the measure because of its educational advantages, and because I think anything that brings together the different sections of the population of Ireland must be a benefit to the whole Empire. So much with regard to Irish measures, which I should think are likely to occupy a very considerable part of this Session. But we are also promised a very important English measure, I mean 26 that for small holdings. I will not trouble your Lordships with a discussion on the depopulation of the rural districts. The only remark I would make is this: that this movement of the rural population to the towns is in no way peculiar to this country. It is in the most remarkable manner a movement going on all over the world. It is found in France; it is found in Canada, where the towns have increased much faster than the rural districts; it is found in the United States, where the increase in the towns is infinitely greater than it is in the rural districts; it is found in Australia, where the circumstances are wholly different; therefore, I think we must dismiss from our minds the idea that any particular system of land tenure, or any particular system of society, such as we have here, is the main and principal cause of this movement. I say that, because I think otherwise we may be led astray in considering these questions. But when I make this general observation, I by no means wish to depreciate any attempts which may be made to diminish the strength of this movement. On the contrary, I think the universality of the movement and the strength of it render it the more necessary that we should take any measure that may be in our power to counteract it. It is the interest of the country, it is the interest of the whole population, that the rural population should not be unduly diminished; and although one of the noble Lords said that the Census showed that there was not a diminution in our rural districts, I cannot help feeling some doubt as to whether that conclusion is well founded. It may be that, taking all so-called rural districts together, there may not be generally a diminution; but if you look at the strictly rural agricultural districts, I think you will find that there is a diminution going on, although not in so great a proportion as in the previous decade. However that may be, this is a measure that must be judged, not merely with reference to the question of depopulation, but with reference to many other aspects which it bears. What I am rather curious to know is, what is the precise object which Her Majesty's Government will have in view with 27 regard to this measure? My reason for saying so is this: the noble Marquess will forgive me for referring to a very interesting speech which he recently made, and in which he discussed very largely this question of small holdings. I was rather puzzled to know what were the precise objects which the Government had in view in proposing such a measure. The question of the improvement of the condition of the labourers by any such measure was set aside by the noble Marquess. He laid great stress upon what I am by no means disposed to underrate—the political effects of increasing the number of proprietors in this country; but the chief, the main, object, apparently, which he had in view in the creation of these small holdings was one that I confess surprised me, namely, the diminution of the pressure of the poor rates on real property; and if that is the chief object of the measure I doubt very much whether it will be received with quite as much satisfaction in the rural districts as the noble Marquess may desire. But there is one observation I wish to make upon this Small Holdings Bill: that I think it is a very striking refutation of the attacks which have been made upon those who sit upon this side of the Table, or in the other House of Parliament, for our supposed, as it is called, bidding for the agricultural vote. We are constantly told that we are exceedingly factious people—that our only object is to catch a vote here and there, and that we have been bidding for the agricultural vote. Well, I apprehend that all parties are very desirous to obtain the agricultural vote if they can, and I think that this Bill that has been brought forward by the Government is a very strong example that bidding for the agricultural vote is not confined to this side of the House. And I must also make this remark—that we have lately seen what is exceedingly gratifying to us, because it is a very old saying that nothing is so flattering as imitation. Now we had a conference in London of agricultural labourers, and, I believe, in some quarters among those who are opposed to us there was a disposition rather to underrate and sneer at the conference. 28 But, what took place soon after? The Minister for Agriculture paid us the great compliment of instantly imitating what we had done, and setting up another and rival conference of agricultural labourers in a district not very far from me. I am sufficiently vain to think that the copy was not as good as the original; but, at all events, it shows that we have no monopoly of this attempt to catch the agricultural vote; and all that we can hope for is that we may have a majority of their votes. And I am not quite certain that this small holdings measure may not really be ascribed a good deal to the pressure which has been brought forward on the part of the Opposition for something to be done for the agricultural labourer, and that we may not get possibly a certain amount of the credit that may be derived from this measure. But, be that as it may, I think the matter must really be judged, not from a Party point of view of who is going to get votes at the next election. The measure is one of very considerable importance and, when it comes (as I trust it will) before the House, it will meet on both sides of it with a fair disposition to favourable consideration, if it is a reasonable measure. Now there is a measure which interests me personally and many noble Lords in this House, which I am very glad to see mentioned in the Speech—I mean the measure which is described as for the improvement of the Legislative Councils of India. I echo most sincerely a hope which was expressed by one of the noble Lords who moved and seconded the Address, that this measure will not merely pass through this House, but will be pressed by Her Majesty's Government through the other House and will pass into law. It is really a misfortune that a measure of this kind should be hung up Session after Session. However important to us may be our domestic legislation, let us not forget that we have an immense responsibility in the government of that great Empire in India, and that it is not well for us to palter long with questions of this kind. And I am the more desirous that this measure should be dealt with, because I have observed, as I have no doubt the noble Viscount the Secretary of State for India 29 has observed, with great pleasure that in India the tone has much moderated in dealing with this subject, and that very sensible views have been expressed at meetings held in India; and there is now a reasonable promise that there will be an agreement as to a tentative and commencing measure upon this subject. We must not look for it all at once; but if we can make a beginning, I believe we shall lay the foundation for what may be a real benefit and a real security to our Indian Empire. My Lords, there are a number of other small matters that are dealt with in the Speech, and upon which, if I were disposed to occupy your time, I might make some observations. But you know that every Session we have what may be called the ghosts of the previous Session resuscitated and brought before us; and here they are as usual. My own feeling is that, whilst they are very interesting figures, at this time of day, when this Parliament is necessarily not far from its termination, it will not be found that there will be any very extraordinary anxiety to deal with those subjects which are not of great and pressing interest, and that, in all probability, some at least, perhaps all of them, will survive to appear in another Parliament, and receive then I hope more attention than they would probably get in the present Parliament. My Lords, I will not detain your Lordships any longer. The Speech has the great merit of brevity; the subjects of it are plainly and sufficiently stated; and I daresay your Lordships will be very glad if I say that I have exhausted all the observations that I wish to make on this occasion.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND SECRETARY OF STATE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS (The Marquess of SALISBURY)
In the course of his, I am bound to say very temperate, remarks, or rather at the beginning of them, the noble Lord commenced with that tribute to the talent of those who have moved and seconded the Address, which was never more fitly delivered than on the present occasion. At all events, tonight we can say that, in reiterating that eulogy, we are using no hollow and unreal phraseology. The speeches of the two noble Lords, and especially of 30 the noble Earl who moved the Address, will take a very high rank among similar addresses which we have listened to in this House. They indicate great powers of mind and of speech; and if the two noble Lords will give us the benefit in future debates of the powers that they have displayed, there will be a very considerable addition, both of solid thought and of graceful language, to illustrate the discussions of this House. My Lords, we meet on a very sad and tragic occasion, which must necessarily colour our remarks, and I think probably diminish the keenness of our application to other subjects. I do not feel that, after the very pathetic and eloquent observations which have fallen from all who have noticed this sad subject, I ought to detain your Lordships long by dwelling upon it; it is one which must waken our deepest feelings of sympathy as individuals, and loyalty as good subjects. We, most of us, had some acquaintance—my own was very slight, but I had some acquaintance—with the lamented Prince whose loss we are deploring. It always struck me that I had seldom seen in any rank, and hardly ever in so exalted a rank, such a. perfect absence of selfishness or pride of any kind, such a complete amiability of character, such a desire to make himself loved by all with whom he might come in contact; and I think that, outside the circle of those who knew him, the recognition of his fine qualities was widely spread, and it was believed that in a future, though all hoped a distant, day we had the hope of a ruler who would carry on at their highest level the traditions of the English Monarchy. And then the depth of the calamity is measured by the contrast of the feelings against which it is thrown. Before this event took place a marriage had been announced which had been singularly grateful to the feelings of the people of this country. It was a marriage with a Princess well known and universally beloved, and universally honoured wherever she was known, and men looked forward with an enthusiasm to that event which they could not feel in the case of a Princess coming from another land with whom they had not yet been able to make themselves 31 acquainted. The tragic character of the reality is thrown out by its contrast with the hopefulness of those dreams in which men indulged. The considerations of consolation, on which the noble Earl behind me has dwelt, have no doubt weighed strongly with your Lordships, as they have weighed with the August Sovereign whose words this Speech embodies. It is no small thing to feel that the position, the action, the common reputation of the Royal Family, and especially of the Sovereign who is at the head of it, are such as to have called forth, even from those who knew little or nothing of the Prince we have lost, that universal unbidden outburst of sympathy and sorrow which echoed from every corner of the world. It shows to us that, above all theories, our institutions are knit together by human and personal feelings, and that their popularity is largely a tribute to, and a proof of, the excellence of those who bear the honours they confer. My Lords, as I have said, the observations of the noble Lord opposite were very temperate, and I do not know, if equity did not demand it, that I should think it necessary to answer him in the matters to which he referred. He told us that he disagreed about Egypt; but, by way of showing that he disagreed, he proceeded to utter what, so far as I could catch it, was a very sound and orthodox statement of the view which has always been held on both sides of the House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
We have always held language which, as I say, speaking merely from what I gathered, is very similar to that which has been held this evening by the noble Lord.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
We have great confidence that the experiment—the somewhat strange and anomalous experiment—in which this country has taken so large a part, will not be allowed to fail. Our object is, undoubtedly, that Egypt should stand by her own strength—too strong either for internal intrigue or rebellion or for external encroachment to overthrow. 32 That is the object we have in view. We may think that our critics imagine that that object can be reached more rapidly, and by more royal roads, than we believe to be the case. That is a matter which, I agree with the noble Lord, we had better defer to some other opportunity of debate. But the difference between us is a difference in means, and not in ends; and I earnestly hope that no foreign country will believe that this people, after all they have sacrificed, and all they have done, will ever abandon Egypt, either to the supremacy of any other Power, or to the destruction of disorder and anarchy within. The noble Lord asked us about Newfoundland. He very fitly compared it to a Chancery suit—even under the reformed orders of the Court of Chancery; but he proceeded to say that he hoped the efforts of Her Majesty's Government had procured a settlement of it. Well, if Her Majesty's Government had been left alone, we should have procured a settlement of it. The efforts of Her Majesty's Government bore the very fairest promise of success. Unfortunately, a Bill was necessary, and that Bill had to pass through both Houses of Parliament. In this House it met with a certain amount of criticism; but the noble Lords opposite did their roaring very gently, and I do not think any very great harm was done. But when it got into the other House of Parliament the matter took a very different turn, and I am revealing no diplomatic secret, for whenever the Papers come to be published it must appear that the observations which were made by gentlemen, who believed themselves to be, and announced themselves to be, on the point of coming into Office at an early period, were of such a character as entirely to destroy in the French Government any hope that they would obtain the execution of the decrees of the arbitrator, whenever the arbitrator might be appointed; and the result is that since those speeches have been delivered we have not moved a single inch, and the French Government have not, up to this time, ventured to submit, or thought it right to submit, to their Chamber the ratification of the engagement on the strength of which we proposed that 33 Bill to Parliament. I am justified, therefore, in saying that if the Newfoundland business has not got further than it has at present, it is not because we have made no efforts, but because our efforts have been interfered with by the somewhat rash criticisms that others have devoted to them. But it is fair to say that the French Government are, I believe, awaiting the result of legislation which has been promised in the Newfoundland Assembly. I do not venture to prophesy what its fate will be; but, until that fate is decided, I am wholly unable to tell the noble Lord how soon the Chancery suit will come to a conclusion. The noble Lord derived great consolation from the consideration of Irish affairs. He thought he saw the material for failure and consequent discontent in all the measures of Her Majesty's Government, and he exulted in the notion that we should produce so much dissatisfaction in Ireland that the success of his Party would consequently be the result. Well, that is, perhaps, not a novel way of looking at the legislative proposals of your opponent. What is novel is the extreme candour with which, on this occasion, it has been announced. I can only say that I hope the noble Lord will be disappointed. I quite admit with him that education is a very thorny subject, and I have no doubt we shall find that we have stirred up a considerable hornet's nest in some direction or other by any proposals that we may make; but if we are to be deterred from doing anything for education in Ireland by that reflection, when we consider how deeply education goes to the root of all the differences by which that country is distracted, I imagine our legislative career would be of a very anodyne and unimportant character. The noble Lord expressed his curiosity as to what several Bills would contain. I think, on the whole, I had better leave him to the sufferings which that unsatisfied passion may cause him a few days longer. If I were to attempt to give him an account from memory of the various clauses he has referred to, I might possibly make some mistake for which he would be very angry with me afterwards. I can only hope that his rest will not be seriously compromised by the length of 34 time he will have to wait. The matter which, I think, excited the noble Lord to the greatest extent was our proposal for a Small Holdings Bill. He was indignant that we had tried to catch the agricultural vote.
THE EARL OF KIMBERLEY
No; I made no objection. I objected that we were accused of doing it when you were doing the same thing.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I imagine we used to be called the Agricultural Party, and it sounds rather as if I were trying to catch my own vote—an effort I should find no difficulty in performing. But I do not think there is much reality in an accusation, under our Constitutional Government, of what is called trying to catch votes, unless you do it in a dishonourable manner, and in a manner inconsistent with your own convictions; because I understand these two Houses sit rather for the purpose of listening to the grievances and views of the inhabitants of this country, and that, if they do not try to catch votes—that is to say, if they do not try to meet the wishes of the people by whom this country is inhabited—they very largely fail in the duties which they have to perform. But the noble Lord seemed to suggest that we had borrowed our policy from him. That is a claim of copyright which I hear constantly coming from the benches opposite. It appears to me that at some time or other some versatile Member or other of their Party has made every possible suggestion on political matters which human ingenuity can contrive; and, therefore, it consequently follows that if anybody takes up any idea in earnest he must find that some Member of the Liberal Party at some time or other had expressed a similar idea. I venture to say for myself that I am not guilty of borrowing from the noble Lord in this matter of small holdings. The noble Lord must remember perfectly well—it is some time ago now—that when he was pushing the first Irish Bill through Parliament I ventured to support him, very much to the indignation of my then leader, the noble Duke behind me (the Duke of Richmond), in the policy of those small holdings. I was a believer in the policy that the Bright Clauses suggested. They were not very 35 successful; they failed to please the Treasury—a failure which has happened to other clauses besides those—and consequently they did not succeed. But they represented a principle which I ventured to support then, and which I support now, as most essentially Conservative in its nature. There is no guarantee for the maintenance of the institutions of a country like a large number of possessors of land in that country. I do not say that these small holdings will be able to effect that object; the economical causes may be too strong for us; it may not be possible to cultivate land in these small parcels with success, or to own it with success; the temptation to invest the capital in something more remunerative may tend to cause the constant sale of the holdings as fast as they are created. I am putting the matter in its worst light. I do not in the least pledge my own belief that this must necessarily succeed over a very large portion of the country. I believe in some portions of the country, where the soil is fertile, it may succeed. I am quite certain that wherever it does succeed it will be a very large additional guarantee to the institutions of this country. And I must correct a misunderstanding of the noble Lord's with respect to the object that I have in view. That guarantee to the institutions of the country is what induced me 20 years ago, and what induces me now, and I believe always will induce me, to support a policy for multiplying the owners of land. When I said that it would end in diminishing the burden of the poor rates, what I thought I explained at Exeter (but I am afraid I did not carry it to the mind of the noble Lord), was that it seemed to me that rates generally, education rates certainly, were levied upon the land, and not levied upon other sources of income, and that, by that undue preference given to personal property, a very considerable injustice was being committed. My belief was that if we had a large number of small holders through the country we should be electorally too strong to allow that injustice to continue; but it is only in that sense that I thought the multiplication of small holders would diminish the burden of the poor rates. My Lords, I do not care to dwell upon 36 this subject, for I think we had much better do so when the measure is before us. I feel a difficulty in dealing with this measure, and, indeed, with many other measures which we recommend, either in the Queen's Speech or at other times, in that I am no believer in nostrums or panaceas. I think great evil is done by exaggerating the benefit that any one measure can confer upon the people of this country. The action of every measure must be very limited and partial, and the good that it can produce can only be produced gradually; and I am afraid we shall generate a disbelief in the efficiency of Parliament, and a disbelief in the sincerity of politicians, if we prophecy too large a result from any measure of this kind. But, subject always to that consideration, I do not think there is any object to which we can direct our efforts which would produce more certain hope of benefit than that of multiplying the owners of the land. I do not say this as believing that it will have a very great effect, or a very extensive effect, in retaining in the country those who are not owners of the land. The noble Lord very justly says that the gravitation towards the towns is a thing confined to no country. It is a mark of our time. I believe it is largely the result of education; it is largely the result of that widening of ideas which makes men more anxious for the converse of each other; and men therefore shrink from the isolation and dulness of the country, and love the excitement of the towns. And against that strong human instinct you will struggle in vain. I believe we must confine ourselves to efforts in which we can hope to succeed. If we are able to give the widest scope to the abilities of the dwellers in the country as well as the dwellers in the town; if we are able to elevate their morality and to instruct their minds, so as to stimulate their exertions to the highest extent; if we can hold out to them an object of ambition, which leads to the strongest efforts on the part of the cleverest men, we may be sure that, whether we catch the agricultural vote or not, whatever the immediate and temporary effect of our legislation should be, we are contributing powerfully to the maintenance of our institu 37 tions and the permanent welfare of our country.
§ THE DUKE OF DEVONSHIRE
My Lords, I do not think it is necessary that I should venture to trespass upon your Lordships' attention by any remarks upon any of the subjects referred to in Her Majesty's Gracious Speech from the Throne, save one. But I do desire, at the request of my noble Friend who sits beside me (the Earl of Derby), who has hitherto most ably represented the opinions, and been the exponent of the opinions, of, a large number of Members of your Lordships' House, to say one or two words to express how entirely we concur in all that has fallen from the noble Lords who have moved and seconded the Address to the Throne, from the Prime Minister, and the noble Earl who sits near me, upon the great calamity which has recently befallen the Royal Family. It is impossible for me to add much or anything to what has already been said. When a life of great promise, a life which appeared to offer the fairest prospect that could be open to the noblest ambition, is suddenly and prematurely cut short, it must, under any circumstances, become the subject of universal interest and universal sympathy. But the young Prince whose loss we deplore did not stand alone, and it is rather with his illustrious parents and relatives than with himself that our thoughts are chiefly concerned to-day. It is well-known that the numerous heavy cares of duty which occupy the attention of Her Majesty have in no degree distracted her attention from her domestic duties or chilled her domestic affections. We know still further that the comparative isolation of the Throne has perhaps rendered those feelings of affection more acute and more intense than is the case with ordinary individuals. The Prince and Princess of Wales have so identified themselves with the life of the people, in the midst of whom they occupy the most exalted position: they have so shared our joys and our sorrows, have entered into our labours and our occupations: that we everyone of us feel an interest in everything which concerns and touches them; and nothing which can affect their happiness and their interest can be 38 indifferent to us. My Lords, if consolation could be found for such a crushing and heavy blow as has befallen the Prince and Princess of Wales, it would, as has already been said, be found in the spontaneous and sincere effusion of respectful sympathy which has proceeded from every part of the Empire. We cannot hope that as yet even here much consolation can be found. As has been well expressed by a distinguished Member of your Lordships' House: "That a world-wide Empire mourns with them were slender solace;" but it is all that we can offer, and we do offer it, as the tribute of sincere and loyal hearts.
Address agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered to be presented to Her Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.