That there is damage as well as profit in all these increased facilities of intercourse must be apparent, since there is evil as well as good in the human world, and increased freedom of communication implies freer communication of the evil as of the good. But we may well hope that the cause of true upward progress will be most served by the vast inevitable changes which, as they draw all peoples nearer together, must deepen and strengthen the sense of human brotherhood, and, as they bring the deeds of all within the knowledge of all, must consume by an intolerable blaze of light the once secret iniquities and oppressions abhorrent to the universal conscience of mankind. The public conscience in these realms at least is better informed and more sensitive than it was in the year of William IV’s death and of Victoria’s accession.
STORM AND SUNSHINE.
[Illustration: St. James’s Palace.]
The beneficent changes we have briefly described were but just inaugurated, and their possible power for good was as yet hardly divined, when the young Queen entered into that marriage which we may well deem the happiest action of her life, and the most fruitful of good to her people, looking to the extraordinary character of the husband of her choice, and to the unobtrusive but always advantageous influence which his great and wise spirit exercised on our national life.
The marriage had been anxiously desired, and the way for it judiciously prepared, but it was in no sense forced on either of the contracting parties by their elders who so desired it. Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg, second son of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, the Queen’s maternal uncle, was nearly of an age with his royal cousin; he had already, young as he was, given evidence of a rare superiority of nature; he had been excellently trained; and there is no doubt that Leopold, king of the Belgians, his uncle, and the Queen’s, did most earnestly desire to see the young heiress of the British throne, for whom he had a peculiar tenderness, united to the one person whose position and whose character combined to point him out as the fit partner for her high and difficult destinies. What tact, what patience, and what power of self-suppression the Queen of England’s husband would need to exercise, no one could better judge than Leopold, the widowed husband of Princess Charlotte; no one could more fully have exemplified these qualities than the prince in whom Leopold’s penetration divined them.