Page images

crowds, composed of persons of all ranks, only expressions of sorrow and regard were to be heard. It seemed as if it were a part of England itself that was about to be violently snatched away. This England, which we were told was ready to become a Republic, which was accused of despising its princes, and of having got rid of all its old-fashioned ideas of loyalty,—come and see it to-day, note its grief, and be instructed.”

And La France adds :-“Political life is suspended in England. One sole anxiety absorbs all minds—the health of the Prince of Wales. An entire nation turns to God and partakes of the grief which afflicts its Sovereign, whose son is, perhaps, about to die. What a spectacle and what a lesson ! The Prince of Wales is dying, and yet upon the other side of the Channel no one laughs, no one insults the high-placed personage struck down by sickness. The Princess of Wales quits the bedside of the dying man, not to seek necessary repose, but to hasten to the church to pray and to listen to prayers--and no one laughs. The Queen kneels beside the probable death-bed of her first-born-and no one laughs. The Council—all whom England holds in highest esteem for talent or position-address themselves to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and call upon him to prepare 'new forms of prayer to appeal to the Almighty on behalf of his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. And the people, instead of mocking at this, rush to obtain copies of these prayers, and repeat them in their places of worship. Lutherans, Calvinists, Methodists, Anglicans, Catholics, Jews, all implore the Deity to prolong the days of the future Sovereign of England. This people has the courage, the good sense, not to disown either its history, its past, its Government, or its God, and yet it is a free people after all — who will dispute that ?

“Such a spectacle affects us greatly, and we look around us with bitterness. In vain, alas ! do we look for one of these powerful bonds of union upon which we might rely in a moment of trial, and which might unite a nation in a common sentiment. We have no greater faith in men than we have in God. * We in our disasters and misfortunes could think of nothing but

* *

mutual recrimination, and blush to utter a prayer.

Is that an advance ? We may be allowed to doubt it. Faith has never derogated from man's dignity, it has never rendered him less desirous of liberty. Who would dare to say that England had abased itself because it partakes of the grief which afflicts the family that governs it, because it obeys its natural chiefs who direct it to pray as it would obey them if they called upon it to fight, and to sacrifice itself for the preservation of its old liberties?"

But the people have answered the first letter from their Queen calling upon them for prayer. And how do they call forth her second ?

By the number and the order in which they appear to greet her, and by the power of their sympathy in her Thanksgiving.

In a multitude which was in itself sublime, even if divested of all the sparkling adjuncts to its mighty presence which that morning embroidered our dim prosaic London streets with continental colour and light, with banner, medallion, and motto, they declared their loyalty to that most true and motherly heart.

On looking down into that vast sea of faces, one saw in each the soul of the family life, wave after wave they gave an idea of a nation peaceful, prosperous, united by the laws and the Word of God. Never has it been so freely circulated among them, and never was it so largely made their own by purchase as in the last twenty and even ten years, at any period of their history, and more or less it has trained them to fear God and honour the Queen-honour this day paid to the headship of her family life, paid more chivalrously perhaps to a Queen than it might have been to a King, paid doubly to their Queen appearing amongst them after her ten years of true and retiring widowhood, but now nerved to show herself once more to her people by the granting of her prayer for the life of her son.

And surely heaven favoured the meeting—Who had hushed the winter's wind, and restrained the dripping clouds, and dried the footways—for a nation's thanksgiving.

The entire United Kingdom sent up its voice, and with all the depth and strength of the national heart avouched its adherence to its ancient Monarchy with a vast thunder of welcome.

Never before has the most populous city of modern times seen such a throng converging within a limited area.

Never yet was Sovereign in all the annals of all the nations borne through such an avenue of loyal hearts and smiling facesthe roughs of London were probably all out of doors, but swallowed up by such encircling masses of the quiet and well conducted “middle classes,” that disturbance and outrage were unknown. There were many soldiers on duty in town that day, and all the police that could be mustered ; but the military and the police, and the noble “ blue jackets ” inclusive, were only embankers of the tide of life. The people regulated themselves in two mighty streams, one going one way, and one another. No carriages were allowed in the City after ten in the morning. The watchers over order only regulated the rippling crowd. It was no mob, but a nation, and a civilized one,

in universal motion, and one wondered how its manners had become universally softened for the occasion.

The truth certainly was, that they had not come out so much for sight-seeing as to take part in a thanksgiving; and so the Queen herself has recognised it. They were a countless congregation of thankful men and women, acknowledging the reprieve of God to the restored heir of the British crown; and if there had been a deviation in thought from the “old ways and customs of England " in the minds of any, stirred up by a handful of grumblers, this Thanksgiving Day, this wonderful day, swept it aside in a torrent of popular feeling; and it is because Great Britain is capable of this steady force of principle in action that she continues the mother of empires, the refuge of all the sorrowful, and the home of the brave and the free.

But it is not in her own strength that she stands. None in authority could have ordained that this day should have passed off as it has done; they could only wish it well over. No police and no army could have controlled that crowd. An accident, a squabble, a tumble from the over-full windows and balconies that fringed the rushing river of life, rising tier above tier to the housetops, even a falling slate from the overladen roofs, might have had fearful consequences; but, no, from morn till midnight, even amid the flicker, the glitter, and the blaze of the illuminations, all was peace and order. The eye and the hand of Him who rules the world was in it“the right hand of God.” He turneth the people " whithersoever He will.” He had heard the prayer, and He listened to the praise of His mercy. Oh! that, indeed, His dealings with this people might lead them to holier living, and prepare them for more of His



unto me,

St. Paul's displayed the motto, “I was glad when they said

Let us go up to the House of the Lord.” We have left ourselves no space to touch on the centre of centres— the privileged inner circle of thousands upon thousands, who shared in the actual hour of worship in the great cathedral of London. We are loth to speak there of scenic effect-of the scarlet and the silver, the ebon and the snow, of the colours and the forms in which were arrayed the assembled estates of the realm, the powers that be, and all the representatives of power in the kingdom of England and its Colonies, the Lords and the Commons, the Established Church, and the Churches of Christ non-established, the ministers of State, ambassadors of all nations, dukes and all dignities, and ladies fair. Those who witnessed the array must ever remember it, and we hope that most who composed it shut their eyes upon externals, and lifted eyes and thoughts, with the Queen and her children, in the chant of “We praise Thee, O Lord,” to Him who dwelleth not in temples made with hands—eternal in the heavens. We venture on a humble contrast to that grand National celebration of worship, and ask our readers to close our recital with a visit to a humble Mission-room.


“Last week,” says one of the Pioneers, “we had four Thanksgiving Prayer-meetings; but the one on the day itself, the 27th, was the best. After trying to get a sight of the Queen and a glimpse of the Prince's face, I went away to my Meeting, with a thankful heart that his life had been spared to his family and to the nation.

“When I reached the Bible Mission-room there were twentyeight mothers, met on purpose to have a “Thanksgiving Prayer-meeting.'

“We read the Psalm that had been used in the cathedral, and then it would have done your heart good to hear the prayers of the dear mothers who had not gone to look at the Prince, but had stopped at home on purpose to pray for him.

“The Queen, the Princess, and the Royal children were all remembered, and they were so glad to hear that Prince Albert Victor had been presented with a Bible in memory of the daya Bible bound in slabs of pure white ivory, and containing seventy-two beautiful photographs of places in the Holy Land visited by the Prince of Wales. Great feeling was manifested by the mothers in petitions for the soul of him for whose life we thanked God that day ; that, if he is spared to reign over us, he may be a king who rules in righteousness. Many were the prayers of faith, and I never remember feeling more of the influence of the Holy Spirit in any Mothers' Meeting. We were all the better for it, and why should we not believe that the Prince himself will be the better for that meeting of humble and prayerful souls. I believe he must. We closed with the hymn,

Joyfully, joyfully, onward we move,

Bound to the land of bright spirits above,' &c. ; and the memory of that meeting, and God's presence on that day, will long remain with us. • The Prince and the Prayer,' by Miss Marsh, had, by the kindness of friends, been very widely distributed and read in our Mission Rooms."


“MY DEAR Mrs. R-,

6. There is a case which seems to have come almost accidentally under our notice-never having been recommended by Bible-woman or Lady Superintendent, but one in which the finger of God can be distinctly traced in bringing to light His 'hidden ones’ just at the time when He knew their necessities had become wellnigh overwhelming.

« PreviousContinue »