Will Queen Victoria Abdicate?
The story that Queen Victoria is about to abdicate has been revived by the rumors of her bodily ailments. Those are naturally increasing with age, and as the Queen will be 71 on her next birthday in May, there is nothing surprising in their becoming more noticeable. But she comes of a long-lived family, and there is no present reason for expecting that she is in any danger from old age.
Of the fifteen children of George III, who himself lived to be 82, two, the Duke of Cumberland and Mary, Duchess of Gloucester; outlived their eightieth year. Six survived their seventieth, and two were well on toward their seventies when death overtook them. The Queen's father, the Duke of Kent, died at the comparatively early age 58. Considering the care which she has always taken of herself, the peacefulness of her reign, and the immunity from sorrow which she has enjoyed, she may well look forward to another decade of power.
That she will abdicate in favor of her son is hardly to be expected. It does not run in that family to abdicate power. It was with the greatest difficulty that George III, when he was blind and mad as a hatter, was induced to consent to a Regency. George IV nearly provoked a revolution by his obstinate refusal to abdicate.
In Queen Victoria's case, there is no likelihood of any pressure being exerted to induce her to resign the throne. Her fifty years' experience have educated her in the art of reigning without governing; popular government works smoothly, without the least friction. She accepts as her chief minister whomsoever Parliament chooses to select; and though, at critical times, she has insisted on being consulted on questions of foreign politics, and has gone so far— as in the Trent affair— as to modify a dispatch from the Foreign Office, yet still she has never actually joined issue with any minister, nor set her will in direct opposition to the will of Parliament.
In the Don Pacifico case, Lord Palmerston pursued a course which the Queen openly condemned and reprobated; but the minister insisted and the Queen yielded. In her own sphere, Queen Victoria is despotic, and her decrees are not open to debate. That sphere is high-social life. She rules the aristocratic society or England with a rod of iron; and even her children are timid in her presence. Not even the friendship of the Prince of Wales could save Colonel Valentine Baker from her indignant wrath ; and a life spent in noble works could not atone, in her Majesty's eyes, for the breach of good taste committed by Miss Burdett Coatts in marrying young Ashmead.
Her own life has been spotless, aggressively pure, so to speak; she insists on an equally immaculate record among those who surround her. In matters of etiquette, usage, heraldry, and even dress, she is well informed, and her word is law. Her mind has run to these topics instead of letters, or art or science. When Prince Albert lived, his powerful and many-sided mind exerted such a stress on her that she had opinions on books, music, modern science and even high polities; at his death she fell back into more congenial channels.
She can tell, from memory, how many quarterings a German noble family can boast; but it is very doubtful whether she has any clear idea of the line of demarcation between State and Federal sovereignty in the United States, or whether she understands. the philosophy embodied in the "Origin of Species." If she is not in harmony with the strain of modern thought, the misfortune is rather due to her age than to her mental bent. She was a woman grown when the great reforms that made England what it is, were begun. She has probably never doubted that she is Queen of England by the grace of God.
She has shown more than once that her idea of dealing with the working class is not to give them rights and votes and let them care for themselves, but to furnish the old men with soup and the old women with flannel petticoats and pet them both as inferior creatures who are deserving of pity. She never couid rise to the height of Gladstone's schemes for the elevation of the British subject into a citizen. But she was quite pleased with Disraeli's notion of creating her Empress of India. —San Francisco Call, 1890
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