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active part in practical politics. He might neither give counsel nor accept responsibility. Custom, the sternest tyrant of them all, forbade that he should prepare himself in the school of experience for the task which presently he would be asked to perform. But there were other duties, which lay not beyond his scope, and these he discharged with a zeal and energy which proved his competence in affairs. He interested himself deeply in the housing of the poor. He made the hospitals his own peculiar care. And he brought to philanthropy the sound sense and knowledge of the world which were always his. Nor was his activity bound by these and kindred duties. He still had time to spare for the manifold pursuits of the country. He won the Derby; he bred prize-cattle; he proved that nothing which delighted the average Englishman came amiss to him. And if literature made no appeal to his mind, if his sympathy with the fine arts was not conspicuous, he might justly plead the example of his mother, and declare that the patronage of painting and sculpture was not the first duty of a monarch, that Kings might still be great though their Courts were unhaunted of the Muse.

Nine years ago he ascended the throne at the age of sixty, completely inexperienced in the delicate business he was asked to transact. The lack of experience, which he himself deplored, was not wholly unfortunate. A knowledge of kingly duties can be acquired in age. The lessons of life, which fit their master for any enterprise, may be learned only in youth. And if Edward VII. was ignorant of the practices of Ministers, none understood better than he the management of men, nor possessed a closer acquaintance with the customs and manners of many worlds. Moreover, a King who is not called upon to rule until maturer years has this advantage: he has been permitted to live and in the open; his eyes and mind have not been closed against the truth; he has moved, whither he would, without the pomp and circumstance of Courts. So that, if Edward VII. were in 1901 a novice as a King, he was no novice in the complex arts of life. There were certain duties of a King which intimately chimed with his humour. He loved the splendid trappings of royalty. He took a keen delight in the pageantry of progresses and processions. He had not long been on the throne when a reaction from the austerity of the Victorian Age was plainly visible. There was henceforth a certain movement and gaiety in the street, to which London had been unaccustomed. Never once did the King shirk a ceremonial duty. It was his point of honour to make the Coronation as noble and handsome as possible. He insisted always on opening Parliament in person, and his passage from Buckingham Palace to Westminster was ever a gratification of his people's loyalty. Thus he interpreted the tenure of his office. He thought that his faithful subjects had a right to participate in the display and glitter of the Court,

whereof he was the centre. He was determined that those who had known him in the greater intimacy of his princely days, should witness the dignity and magnificence of his royal progress, and if only the Radicals were gifted with understanding they would recognise that in the true sense of the word Edward VII. was a democratic monarch.

A curiosity of life, a desire to know and understand all new things-these were governing qualities in the mind of Edward VII., and it marks the keenness of his sympathy that he desired others to delight in the pageantry which was a delight to him. Nevertheless, this interest in the decorative arts of life was but the superficial merit of our King. If he were a man of the world, he was a man also of courage and devotion. No statesman of his time had a higher sense of duty. He spared neither himself nor his leisure. He worked for his country unceasingly. He was at his post early and late. And it will always be remembered that even on the day of his death he was still ready to transact business, to give himself in the service of England. It has been said of his house that none of its men ever lacked courage, and it is to his glory that in the conscious hour of death he was still master of himself and his destiny.

There was a oneness in his character which is the chief element of greatness. He cherished as King all the qualities which he had displayed as Prince of Wales. He did but bring into the wider sphere of foreign policy the amiability, the dislike of harsh dealing, the determination to mitigate animosities, which had distinguished him in the conflicts of society. The lesson of his influence is a lesson of humanity. We shall do him no discredit if we acknowledge that he was not a statesman of the highest rank. He had not the grasp and foresight of Bismarck. He did not form an imaginative conception of foreign policies. It was not for him to foretell the future or to work for the millennium. But he saw with a rare lucidity what lay immediately in front of him. He disliked the strife of countries as bitterly as he disliked the conflict of parties, and he believed always that more might be done by accommodation than by force. In other words, he was determined to approach foreign countries in the same spirit in which he would approach his friends. Were they quarrelsome, then he would insist that they should make up their quarrel like men of honour. As duels may be avoided in society by the exercise of tact, so wars might (he thought) be avoided in Europe, if only Ministers would listen to the voice of compromise. If it be not a counsel of heroism, it is a counsel of prudence and of good hap. It is not easy, as yet, to say precisely what Edward VII. achieved for the peace of Europe. His influence is still vague and uncertain. But without anticipating the verdict of history, we may declare that since he went as a royal ambassador to foreign courts, there has been a more humane interpretation of politics and their purpose.

supposed that, because foreign affairs, he was a These, who should have highly complex motives

Certain ingenious persons have Edward VII. professed an interest in Machiavelli in cunning and duplicity. known better, have detected the most in his simplest actions. Of course, it may be said at once that his policy was never Machiavellian. It was based upon a reasonable desire for tranquillity, and it was carried out openly and without afterthought. As Edward VII. dominated society by a mixture of suavity and sternness, so he dominated the politics of the world by a firmness, which made clear his purpose, by a willingness to accommodate, which proved his sympathy with others. The heads of other States knew that he would meet them as gentlemen, that he would take advantage neither of their amiability nor of their self-interest, and by the exercise of worldly wisdom peace appeared not merely desirable but inevitable.


Thus he carried that faculty of friendship, which had served him so long and so well in private, into the sphere of politics, and at a word peace seemed to alight upon his shoulder. The fortune rather than the credit of the cessation of hostilities in South Africa belonged to him. That end was achieved with his complete sympathy, but without his domination. entente cordiale stands upon another foot, and it is hardly too much to say that our friendship with France is the sole and authentic work of Edward VII. That he was better equipped by nature and habit to carry out this admirable design need not be said. For many years he had lived as familiarly in Paris as in London. The breadth of sympathy, the quick sensitiveness to outward impressions, the delight in colour and gaiety, the love of the theatre-all the qualities which win the favour of Paris-had long been his. And when in 1903 he went to France on his mission of peace, he might have hoped to succeed where failure seemed assured to any one else. The task was not easy. The relations between France and England were strained-on the French side, at least to breaking point. And if it is true, as M. Hanotaux has said, that the King's visit was suggested by none but himself, that he wrote to President Loubet without the knowledge of his Ministers, then the triumph is clearly a personal triumph for King Edward VII., and for him alone. He came to France; he was received with correctness and without enthusiasm. drove down the Champs Elysées amid a cold silence-the one figure in the drama who was determined to be pleased. Nothing checked his enthusiasm. Resolved to find in a city of unfriendliness the Paris of his early dreams, he made his enjoyment and appreciation manifest to all men. Thus was his conquest assured. He treated France as a friend with whom he had had a misunderstanding. And France, sensitive as himself, understood the spirit of his proffered compromise. The rest


was easy. In a few months the bitterness of Fashoda, the malice of the Dreyfus case, the many fables which in these far-off days of misunderstanding did duty for political argument, were all put away into the dark backward and abysm of time. Nothing was left but the memory of a pleasant visit and the fine security of a freshly knit friendship. What King Edward did in France was even surpassed by the entente which he inaugurated in Russia. There the feeling of animosity, if less profound than in Paris, was at least established upon a sounder basis. The unfortunate event which had taken place in the North Sea could not be explained away as the figment of a suspicious imagination. England's alliance with Japan was, and is, a happy reality. But once more King Edward's ease of manner won the day. He smoothed away the difficult memories of the past, he showed the amicable possibilities of the future and overcame the hesitancy of Russia, because he treated her as he had treated France-like a friend. Many Kings, no doubt, have achieved greater things than this. No King may boast of precisely this achievement.

At home King Edward had not had the opportunity of displaying the rare gift of conciliation which had served him so well abroad. He died on the eve of a dispute, upon which it would have been his duty to arbitrate. A greater difficulty than any with which he had been confronted lay ahead of him. It was fortunate for him, perhaps, that he escaped this supreme test of statesmanship. On one side, at least, the combatants possessed neither grace nor moderation. It is unfortunate for us, since King Edward had that faculty of yielding, to win a future advantage, which can solve most of the difficulties that beset the body politic. But, though much remains to do, much he did. If he had not the mightier attributes of kingship, if it was not given to him to ride at the head of a victorious army, or to dominate the councils of the State with his own imperious policy, he showed what no other King has ever shown, that a finished man of the world may interpose upon ground too dangerous for the political philosopher, and that even in the hostile atmosphere of foreign courts, manners still make man.




WHILE 'neath the Bridge I watched the River glide,
Lord of the bed in which his life began,
I thought how Nature with her deathless tide
Bemocked th' ephemeral fates of dying Man.

But Man I saw, returning scorn for scorn,

In narrower bounds confine the River's wave,
Display his spoils from Nature's kingdom torn,
And build his arts and commerce on her grave.

O'er marsh and fen I marked his City grown,
Whose winding streets record the elder fame
Of brooks, like Niobe transformed to stone,1
Of shore and islet buried in a name;2

And, high above, his twin Cathedral towers,
Crowning the glories of the Nation's shrine,
Proclaim how far Man's perishable powers
Have to its goal advanced the Will Divine.


Whoe'er of British birth wouldst here explore
The fates and fortunes of thine island kin,
Pass from Thames' bank beneath the Minster door,
And view a nobler stream enshrined within.

Slow, but unresting as the inward force

That thrusts the glacier on from age to age,
The builder's hand reveals the Kingdom's course,
And writes its annals on a marble page.

1 The Tyburn river, rising in the Hampstead hills, originally ran into the Thames to the west of Westminster Abbey.

2 As, for example, The Strand. The syllable "ey" in the names of places along the Thames and its ancient tributaries denotes an island-e.g., Sheppey (Sheep Island), Chelsea, Battersea, Hay Hill (Ey Hill) on the Tyburn (the Ey Bourne), &c. Thorney, the land on which Westminster Abbey is built, means the Isle of Thorns.

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