The best evidence of the truth of the Gospel is admittedly its unequalled power of lifting up humanity to higher and yet higher levels. In many and mighty instances of that power our age is not barren. And in despite of the foes without and within that have wrought her woe—of the Pharisaism that is a mask for fraud, of the mammon-worship cloaked as respectability, of scepticism lightly mocking, of the bolder enmity of the blasphemer—we cannot contemplate the story of Christianity throughout our epoch, even in these islands and this empire, without seeing that the advance of the Faith is real and constant, the advance of the rising tide, and that her seeming defeats are but the deceptive reflux of the ever-mounting waves.
PROGRESS OF THE EMPIRE FROM 1887 TO 1897.
[Illustration: Duke of Connaught.]
Resuming our pen after an interval of ten years, we have thought it well, not only to carry on our story of the Sovereign and her realm to the latest attainable point, but also to give some account of the advance made and the work accomplished by the Methodist Church, which, youngest of the greater Nonconformist denominations, has acted more powerfully than any other among them on the religious and social life, not only of the United Kingdom and the Empire, but of the world. This account, very brief, but giving details little known to outsiders, will form a valuable pendant to the sketch of the general history of Victoria’s England that we are now about to continue.
[Illustration: The Imperial Institute.]
Many thousands who rejoiced in the Queen’s Jubilee of 1887 are glad to-day that the close of the decade should find the beloved Lady of these isles, true woman and true Queen, still living and reigning.
On September 23, 1896, Queen Victoria had reigned longer than any other English monarch, and the desire was general for some immediate celebration of the event; but, by the Queen’s express wish, all recognition of the fact was deferred until the sixtieth year should be fully completed, and the nation prepared to celebrate the “Diamond Jubilee” on June 22, 1897, with a fervour of loyalty that should far outshine that of the Jubilee year of 1887.
In the personal history of our Queen during those ten years we may note with reverent sympathy some events that must shadow the festival for her. The calm and kindly course of her home-life has again been broken in upon by bereavement. All seemed fair in the Jubilee year itself, and the Queen was appearing more in public than had been her wont—laying the foundations of the Imperial Institute; unveiling in Windsor Park a statue of the Prince Consort, Jubilee gift of the women of England; taking part in a magnificent naval review at Spithead. But a shadow was already visible to some; and early in 1888 sinister rumours were afloat as to the health of the Crown Prince of