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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51

(Victoria 1837—.)

(Victoria 1837—.)

William was succeeded by his niece, Queen Victoria, daughter of his brother, the Duke of Kent, our present Monarch. With regard to this lady, we are asked to believe all manner of incredible things. She is reported to be an incarnation of all the personal, political, and domestic virtues. But eulogies of kings and queens during their lives should always be received with the greatest caution. Very seldom is the real character of English princes known to their contemporaries. Lord Tennyson tells us of "the fierce light that beats upon a throne," and simple-minded folks repeat the well-turned phrase till they deem it the embodiment of a reality. It is, in fact, with the greatest difficulty that a single ray of public light can be made to penetrate the dark recesses of a Court. If, for example, the same fierce light that beats on the presidential chair of the United States were page 99 to be applied to the thrones of Europe, they would all, including that of Queen Victoria, be burned up in a fortnight.

Mr. Henry George generously proposed in a memorable speech in St. James' Hall to allow the Queen, as a widow woman, £100 per annum out of the rent or revenue of the national soil. Her services to the State as a Queen he correctly estimated at nil. Not so reckon the discerning British taxpayers. They pay her over £600,000 a year on the score of queenship; while her late husband, tho. Prince Consort, who impudently told us that "Parliamentary Government was on its trial," received altogether £630,000 for marrying her! "What is called Monarchy," says the immortal Thomas Paine, "always appears to me a silly, contemptible thing. I compare it to something kept behind a curtain, about which there is a great deal of bustle and fuss, and a wonderful air of seeming solemnity; but when by any accident the curtain happens to be open, and the company see what it is, they burst into laughter,"—or, he might have added shrink into loathing.

We have seen in previous chapters what the lives of the kings and queens of England have been, from the Norman, Conquest downwards, for a period of more than eight centuries. It is a record that reads more like the Newgate Calendar than any other kind of literature; from beginning to end one long revolting tale of ingratitude, deceit, selfishness, rapine, torture, tyranny, waste, lust, madness, bloodshed, murder—atrocious misgovernment. And we are now asked to believe that an institution which for so many centuries has produced such fruit as naturally as a thornbush produces thorns, has become suddenly respectable and innocuous. The Ethopian has been pleased to change his skin, and the leopard his spots. I, for one, do not credit it. A good queen is as much a contradiction in terms as an amiable wolf, cheerful lightning, or a benevolent earthquake. That which has been is that which shall be, and there is no new thing under the sun. Royalty cannot change its character.

It is not that kings and queens are worse naturally than other men and women. It is the institution that corrupts and degrades them below the level of their fellows. Let us demand the abolition of kingship in the interest of kings as well as in the interest of those whom they misgovern. No page 100 community has a right to place man or woman in a position where the temptations to vice are such as to render virtue next to impossible. Royalty is essentially an immoral institution, for the existence of which monarchists are more responsible than monarchs. The Hebrew prophet, Samuel, once and for all drew the moral, economic, and political lineaments of royalty in ineffaceable characters. (See I Sam., viii.). It is an institution that can neither be cured nor longer endured.—Delenda est Carthago.

And with the big kings or monarchs must go the smaller kings or peers who shine by light borrowed from the throne. In a word, the time has come when the whole system of aristocracy and land monopoly, on which it rests, must be brought to an end—a peaceable end, if possible, but at all events to an end. The people demand two things—a complete system of representative government and the restoration of the land. With the former royalty, with the latter aristocracy, is incompatible. Both must therefore fall. The people must begin sternly to agitate for the repeal of the Act of Settlement. "The third Gate of Barbarism—the Monarchical Gate—is closing." The first Gate of Civilisation—the Republican Gate—is ajar, and soon will be flung wide open. Long live the Republic!

"At the birth of each new era,
With a recognising start,
Nation wildly looks at nation,
Standing with mute lips apart,
And glad Truth's yet mightier man-child
Leaps beneath the Future's heart."