An oppressive government is more to be feared than a tiger. — Confucius

Story of the English - Helene Guerber




The Queen's Marriage

When Victoria became queen, every one felt a tender interest in the young girl who was thus called upon to stand at the head of a great nation. Her coronation, which took place on June 28, 1838, was one of the grandest sights London has ever seen. She was crowned at Westminster Abbey, in the midst of the peers of the realm, who came up to do homage to her. Each one in turn bent the knee before her, and, removing his coronet, touched the queen's crown, saying, "I do become your liegeman of life and limb and of earthly worship; and faith and love will I bear unto you to live and die against all manner of folk. So help me God."

Even there, at the coronation, the young queen showed how kind-hearted she was; for when a very aged peer stumbled and fell, she stretched out her hand to help him rise, and came down a few steps so that he need not exert himself too much to reach her.

Now you may think it is great fun to be a queen, but it is really hard work. From the very first, Queen Victoria spent many hours every day going over state papers with her ministers, who carefully explained everything to her. This was far more tedious for a young girl than any lesson could be; for many things were difficult to understand, and all the papers were very dry.

The queen's first minister and her good friend was Lord Melbourne, who took a fatherly interest in her, and who once said of her: "She never ceases to be a queen, and is always the most charming, cheerful, obliging, and unaffected queen in the world."

It was while this minister was helping her to govern that a long-planned marriage was arranged between Victoria (the "little Mayflower," as her German relatives called her) and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. Victoria being a queen, and Albert only a prince, she was told that it would not be proper for him to propose to her. She therefore had to propose to him; and she once said that it was the hardest thing she ever had to do.

Next, she had to appear alone before Parliament, to tell the House of Lords (which now numbers about 575 members) and the House of Commons (67o members) what she intended to do, and to receive their good wishes. This too was a great trial for so young a girl, but she never had cause to regret it, for her marriage was very happy.

Queen Victoria and the Prince Consort (for so he was later called) were a most devoted couple, and they lived a quiet, beautiful, happy, and exemplary life. Not only was the Prince Consort a good man, but he was wise and well educated, and so modest and unselfish that all he ever asked was to help the queen and her people.

During the following years many changes took place in the royal family, where nine children played in turn in the royal nursery. Changes were going on elsewhere too; for since Victoria had come to the throne, among countless other improvements, there had been established the first penny post, the telegraph, and the Atlantic cable.

To show the people how many new inventions had been made, and what wonderful things the world contains, the Prince Consort planned the first "world's fair," or "peace festival." It was held in the Crystal Palace, near London, and was such a success that it has been followed by many others in different parts of the world. These fairs have been a great help in educating people everywhere, by giving them new and useful ideas.

You will probably often hear it said that Queen Victoria is only a figurehead, and has nothing to do with the government, which is carried on by Parliament and her Cabinet. This, however, is not true; for while Great Britain is a constitutional monarchy, that is to say, a kingdom ruled by the laws of the land, and the queen could not do anything against the law, she can do much with it. Although Victoria is not a genius, she is so well educated and pains-taking that it is she who has often suggested many of the improvements which have taken place.

In the government she has had many prime ministers besides Lord Melbourne; for you must know that her ministers resign their office just as soon as the greater part of Parliament does not approve of what they propose to do. Then the queen asks the principal man in the opposition party to be her minister and to select men for a new Cabinet. These members stay in office just as long as the prime minister has the good will of the House of Commons; but when he goes, they go too.

Gladstone.
GLADSTONE.


The queen's ministers have been these noted men: Melbourne, Peel, Russell, Derby, Aberdeen, Palmerston, Gladstone (the Grand Old Man), Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield), Salisbury, and Rosebery. These ministers have little by little brought about many reforms, among which is a law allowing Jews to be members of both houses of Parliament. Another says that the Irish people need no longer pay taxes for the support of the Church of England, which so few of them attend.



Contents

Front Matter
Review

Early Times
The Druids
The Britons
Caesar in Britain
Queen Boadicea
The Great Walls
The Great Irish Saint
The Anglo-Saxons
Brave King Arthur
The Laws of the Saxons
The Story of St Augustine
Three Great Men
The Danish Pirates
King Alfred and the Cakes
Alfred conquers the Danes
A King's Narrow Escape
The King and the Outlaw
The Monasteries
An Unlucky Couple
St Dunstan
King Canute and the Waves
A Saxon Nobleman
Lady Godiva's Ride
The Battle of Hastings
The Conquest
Lords and Vassals
Death of William
The Brothers' Quarrels
Arms and Armour
The "White Ship"
Matilda's Narrow Escapes
Story of Fair Rosamond
Thomas a Becket
Murder of Thomas a Becket
Richard's Adventures
Richard and the Saracens
The Faithful Minstrel
Death of Richard
The Murder of Arthur
The Great Charter
The Rule of Henry III
A Race
Persecution of the Jews
The Conquest of Wales
A Quarrel with France
The Coronation Stone
The Insolent Favourite
Bruce and the Spider
Death of Edward II
The Murderers punished
The Battle of Crecy
The Siege of Calais
The Age of Chivalry
The Battle of Poitiers
The Peasants' Revolt
Richard's Presence of Mind
A Tiny Queen
Henry's Troubles
Madcap Harry
A Glorious Reign
The Maid of Orleans
The War of the Roses
The Queen and the Brigand
The Triumph of the Yorks
The Princes in the Tower
Richard's Punishment
Two Pretenders
A Grasping King
Field of the Cloth of Gold
The New Opinions
Death of Wolsey
Henry's Wives
The King and the Painter
A Boy King
Lady Jane Grey
The Death of Cranmer
A Clever Queen
Elizabeth's Lovers
Mary, Queen of Scots
Captivity of Mary Stuart
Wreck of the Spanish Armada
The Elizabethan Age
Death of Elizabeth
A Scotch King
The Gunpowder Plot
Sir Walter Raleigh
King and Parliament
Cavaliers and Roundheads
"Remember"
The Royal Oak
The Commonwealth
The Restoration
Plague and Fire
The Merry Monarch
James driven out of England
A Terrible Massacre
William's Wars
The Duke of Marlborough
The Taking of Gibraltar
The South Sea Bubble
Bonny Prince Charlie
Black Hole of Calcutta
Loss of the Colonies
The Battle of the Nile
Nelson's Last Signal
The Battle of Waterloo
First Gentleman of Europe
Childhood of Queen Victoria
The Queen's Marriage
Wars in Victoria's Reign
The Jubilee