Coronation Anecdotes Part 23
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In support of this claim of right, her Majesty's law officers have proved before the said council, from the most ancient and authentic records, that queens-consort of this realm have, from time immemorial, partic.i.p.ated in the ceremony of the coronation with their royal husbands. The few exceptions that occur demonstrate, from the peculiar circ.u.mstances in which they originated, that the right itself was never questioned, though the exercise of it was from necessity suspended, or from motives of policy declined.
Her Majesty has been taught to believe that the most valuable laws of this country depend upon, and derive their authority from, custom; that your Majesty's royal prerogatives stand upon the same basis: the authority of ancient usage cannot therefore be rejected without shaking that foundation upon which the most important rights and inst.i.tutions of the country depend. Your Majesty's council, however, without controverting any of the facts or reasons upon which the claim made on the part of her Majesty has been supported, have expressed a judgment in opposition to the existence of such right. But the Queen can place no confidence in that judgment, when she recollects that the princ.i.p.al individuals by whom it has been p.r.o.nounced were formerly her successful defenders; that their opinions have waved with their interest, and that they have since become the most active and powerful of her persecutors: still less can she confide in it, when her Majesty calls to mind that the leading members of that council, when in the service of your Majesty's royal father, reported in the most solemn form, that doc.u.ments reflecting upon her Majesty were satisfactorily disproved as to the most important parts, and that the remainder was undeserving of credit. Under this declared conviction, they strongly recommended to your Majesty's royal father to bestow his favour upon the Queen, then Princess of Wales, though in opposition to your Majesty's declared wishes. But when your Majesty had a.s.sumed the kingly power, these same advisers, in another minute of council, recanted their former judgment, and referred to, and adopted these very same doc.u.ments as a justification of one of your Majesty's harshest measures towards the Queen--the separation of her Majesty from her affectionate and only child.
The Queen, like your Majesty, descended from a long race of kings, was the daughter of a sovereign house connected by the ties of blood with the most ill.u.s.trious families in Europe; and her not unequal alliance with your Majesty was formed in full confidence that the faith of the king and the people was equally pledged to secure to her all those honours and rights which had been enjoyed by her royal predecessors.
In that alliance her Majesty believed that she exchanged the protection of her family for that of a royal husband, and that of a free and n.o.ble-minded nation. From your Majesty, the Queen has experienced only the bitter disappointment of every hope she had indulged. In the attachment of the people she has found that powerful and decided protection which has ever been her steady support and her unfailing consolation. Submission, from a subject, to injuries of a private nature, may be matter of expedience--from a wife it may be matter of necessity--but it never can be the duty of a queen to acquiesce in the infringement of those rights which belong to her const.i.tutional character.
The Queen does therefore repeat her must solemn and deliberate protest against the decision of the said council, considering it only as the sequel of that course of persecution under which her Majesty has so long and so severely suffered; and which decision, if it is to furnish a precedent for future times, can have no other effect than to fortify oppression with the forms of law, and to give to injustice the sanction of authority. The protection of the subject from the highest to the lowest, is not only the true but the only legitimate object of all power; and no act of power can be legitimate which is not founded on those principles of eternal justice, without which law is but the mask of tyranny, and power the instrument of despotism.
_Queen's House, July 17._
On the day of the coronation a considerable crowd a.s.sembled about her Majesty's house in South Audley Street soon after four o'clock. As soon as it was ascertained that her Majesty's coach was making ready in the yard, the crowd, both in South Audley Street and in Hill Street, became very great. The wall opposite to her Majesty's house in Hill Street was soon covered with spectators, who announced to the crowd below each successive step of preparation. "The horses are to;" "every thing is quite ready;" "the Queen has entered the coach,"--were the gradual communications, and they were received with the loudest cheers. Lady Anne Hamilton arrived a few minutes before five, and was most cordially and respectfully greeted. Soon after five the gate was thrown open, and a shout was raised--"The Queen! The Queen!" The Queen immediately appeared in her coach of state, drawn by six bays. Lady Hood and Lady Anne Hamilton sat opposite to her Majesty. Lord Hood followed in his own carriage. Her Majesty looked extraordinarily well; and acknowledged, with great dignity and composure, the gratulations of the people on each side of her coach. The course taken was, through Great Stanhope Street, Park Lane, Hyde-Park Corner, the Green Park, St. James's Park, Birdcage Walk, and by Storey's Gate, along Prince's Street, to Dean's Yard--a way, it must be observed, the least likely to attract notice or to gather crowds. The crowd acc.u.mulated immensely along this line; the soldiers every where presented arms with the utmost prompt.i.tude and respect; and a thousand voices kept up a constant cry of "The Queen!"
"The Queen for ever!" The _coup d'oeil_ from the road along the Green Park, was the most striking which can be imagined; the whole s.p.a.ce presented one ma.s.s of well dressed males and females hurrying with every possible rapidity to accompany the Queen, and shouting their attachment and admiration. The two torrents that poured along the south side of the park and the eastern end occasioned the greatest conflux at Storey's Gate. As soon as the Queen's arrival was known in the scene of the King's coronation, shouts of "The Queen!" at once arose from all the booths, and hats and handkerchiefs were every where waved in token of respect. As soon as her Majesty came in sight of the coronation platform and Westminster Abbey, she stopped for a few moments, apparently uncertain what course to take, as she had hitherto met with no obstruction, and yet had received nothing like an invitation to approach. At this moment the feelings of the spectators were wound up to a pitch of the most intense curiosity and most painful anxiety. The persons who immediately surrounded her carriage knew no bounds in expressing their enthusiastic attachment, while many of those in the galleries, apprehensive of the consequences of the experiment which she was making, could not restrain their fears and alarms. In the meantime great confusion seemed to prevail among the officers and soldiers on and near the platform; the former giving orders and retracting them, and the latter running to their arms, uncertain whether they should salute her by presenting them or not. Astonishment, hurry, and doubt, seemed to agitate the whole mult.i.tude a.s.sembled either to witness or compose the ensuing pageant. She alighted from her carriage and proceeded on foot, leaning on the arm of Lord Hood, and accompanied by the faithful companions of her affliction, Lady Hood and Lady Anne Hamilton, to demand admission. The approach of the Queen towards the hall-door produced a considerable sensation within: there was an immediate rush to the door, which was closed amidst much confusion. The officer on guard (we believe Colonel M'Kinnon) was immediately summoned to the spot, and asked her Majesty for her ticket. She replied that she had none, and as Queen of England needed none. He professed his sorrow, but said he must obey orders, and that his orders were to see that no person whatever should be admitted without a ticket. Her Majesty then retired. The party went to the door of the duchy of Lancaster behind the champion's stable, and had the door shut in their faces. They then turned round, and leaving the royal carriage behind, proceeded to demand admission at another entrance. The same intense sensation of interest and the same applause, mixed with partial disapprobation, continued to follow her.
When she arrived nearly at the other extremity of the platform--that which was opposite to the central pavilion--her further progress was arrested by a file of about a dozen soldiers, who were suddenly ordered to form across the platform. Her Majesty then quitted it, and went straight on to the House of Lords on foot, there to repeat the same request, and with the same success.
In about twenty minutes she returned, and having ordered the top of her carriage to be taken down, rode off, amid the astonishment and acclamations of the people.
We subjoin the following account from the _Courier_ of her Majesty's reception at the door of Westminster Abbey:--
"LORD HOOD having desired admission for her Majesty, the door-keepers drew across the entrance, and requested to see the tickets.
"LORD HOOD.--I present you your Queen; surely it is not necessary for her to have a ticket.
"Door-keeper.--Our orders are to admit no person without a peer's ticket.
"LORD HOOD.--This is your Queen: she is ent.i.tled to admission without such a form.
"The QUEEN, smiling, but still in some agitation--Yes, I am your Queen, will you admit me?
"Door-keeper.--My orders are specific, and I feel myself bound to obey them.
"The Queen laughed.
"LORD HOOD.--I have a ticket.
"Door-keeper.--Then, my Lord, we will let you pa.s.s upon producing it.
"Lord Hood now drew from his pocket a peer's ticket for one person; the original name in whose favour it was drawn was erased, and the name of 'Wellington' subst.i.tuted.
"Door-keeper.--This will let one person pa.s.s, but no more.
"LORD HOOD.--Will your Majesty go in alone?
"Her Majesty at first a.s.sented, but did not persevere,
"LORD HOOD.--Am I to understand that you refuse her Majesty admission?
"Door-keeper.--We only act in conformity with our orders.
"Her Majesty again laughed.
"LORD HOOD.--Then you refuse the Queen admission?
"A door-keeper of a superior order then came forward, and was asked by Lord Hood whether any preparations had been made for her Majesty? He was answered respectfully in the negative.
"LORD HOOD.--Will your Majesty enter the Abbey without your ladies?
"Her Majesty declined.
"Lord Hood then said, that her Majesty had better retire to her carriage. It was clear no provision had been made for her accommodation.
"Her Majesty a.s.sented.
"Some persons within the porch of the Abbey laughed, and uttered some expressions of disrespect.
"LORD HOOD.--We expected to have met at least with the conduct of gentlemen. Such conduct is neither manly nor mannerly.
"Her Majesty then retired, leaning on Lord Hood's arm, and followed by Lady Hood and Lady Hamilton.
"She was preceded by constables back to the platform, over which she returned, entered her carriage, and was driven off amidst reiterated shouts of mingled applause and disapprobation."
Her Majesty returned through Pall Mall, St. James's Street, and Piccadilly, followed all along by a great concourse of people. In St.
James's Street the water had previously created abundance of mud, and this material the crowd bestowed upon some public offices which were prepared for an illumination. During the whole course of her Majesty's progress no accident occurred.
[Footnote 68: The beautiful anecdote which Mr. Lingard furnishes from Bede of the debate on the conversion of the Northumbrian king, _Edwin_, we cannot forbear transcribing. The high priest of the heathen rites having spoken--a thane "sought for information respecting the origin and destiny of man. 'Often,' said he, 'O king, in the depth of winter, while you are feasting with your thanes, and the fire is blazing on the hearth in the midst of the hall, you have seen a bird, pelted by the storm, enter at one door, and escape at the other. During its pa.s.sage it was visible: but whence it came, or whither it went, you knew not. Such to me appears the life of man. He walks the earth for a few years: but what precedes his birth, or what is to follow after death, we cannot tell.
Undoubtedly, if the new religion can unfold these important secrets, it must be worthy our attention.'"--_Lingard's History_, vol. i. p. 92.]
[Footnote 69: The see of Canterbury was restored to the primacy again by Cenulf, the successor of Egfurth.]
[Footnote 70: Ep. Car. Mag. ap. Bouquet, tom. v. p. 260.]
[Footnote 71: t.i.tles of Honour, p. i. chap. 1.]
[Footnote 72: See Mr. Turner's Anglo-Saxons, Spelman's Life of Alfred, &c.]
[Footnote 73: Taylor's Glory of Regality, Addit. Notes, p. 310.]
[Footnote 74: Lingard's History, vol. i. p. 350.]
[Footnote 75: See Hume's England, 8vo. vol. i. &c.]
[Footnote 76: Turner's Anglo-Saxons, 4to. vol. i. p. 389.]
[Footnote 77: "Princes beyond the baths of the sea-fowl, wors.h.i.+pped him far and wide," says a poem on his death: "they bowed to the king as one of their own kin. There was no fleet so proud, there was no host so strong, as to seek food in England, while this n.o.ble king ruled the kingdom. He reared up G.o.d's honour, he loved G.o.d's law, he preserved the people's peace; the best of all the kings that were before in the memory of man. And G.o.d was his helper: and kings and earls bowed to him: and they obeyed his will: and without battle he ended all as he willed."--_Chron. Sax._ p. 122.]
Coronation Anecdotes Part 23
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Coronation Anecdotes Part 23 summary
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