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He framed and partly accomplished a scheme of education for the heir of England which proves how completely its august projector had contemplated the office of an English King. In the affairs of state, while his serene spirit and elevated position bore him above all the possible bias of our party life, he showed upon every great occasion all the resources, all the prudence, and all the sagacity of an experienced and responsible statesman.
3. I have presumed, sir, to touch upon three instances in which there was, on the part of Prince Albert; the fulfilment of duty of the highest character, under circumstances of the greatest difficulty. I will venture to touch upon another point of his character, equally distinguished by the fulfilment of duty; but in this instance the duty was not only fulfilled but it was created. Although Prince Albert was adopted by this country, he was, after all, but a youth of tender years; yet such was the character of his mind that he at once observed that, notwithstanding all those great achievements which long centuries of internal concord and of public liberty had permitted the energy and enterprise of Englishmen to accomplish, there was still a great deficiency in our national character, and which, if neglected, might lead to the impairing not only of our social happiness, but even the sources of our public wealth,—and that was a deficiency of culture.
4. But he was not satisfied in detecting the deficiency, he resolved to supply it. His plans were deeply laid; they were maturely considered, and notwithstanding the obstacles which they encountered I am prepared to say they were eminently successful.
5. What might have been his lot had his term completed that which is ordained as the average
life of man, it may be presumption to predict. Perhaps he would have impressed upon this age not only his character but his name; but this I think posterity will acknowledge, that he heightened the intellectual and moral standard of this country, that he extended and expanded the sympathies of all classes, and that he most beneficially adapted the productive powers of England to the inexhaustible resources of science and art. It is sometimes deplored by those who loved and admired him that he was thwarted occasionally in his enterprises and that he was not duly appreciated in his works.
6. These, however, are not circumstances for regret but for congratulation. They prove the leading and original mind which so long and so advantageously laboured for this country. Had he not encountered these obstacles, had he not been subject to occasional distrust and misrepresentation, it would only have proved that he was a man of ordinary mould and temper. Those who move must change, and those who change must necessarily disturb and alarm prejudices: and what he encountered was only a demonstration that he was a man superior to his age, and admirably adapted to carry out the work he had undertaken.
7. Sir, we have been asked to-night to condole with the Crown in this great calamity. That is no easy office. To condole in general is the office of those who, without the pale of sorrow, feel for the sorrowing; but in this instance the country is as heart-stricken as its Queen. Yet, in the mutual sensibilities of a sovereign and a people there is something ennobling, something that elevates the spirit beyond the ordinary claim of human
8. The counties and cities and corporations of the realm, and those illustrious institutions of learning, of science, of art, and of skill, of which he was the highest ornament and the inspiring spirit, have bowed before the throne in this great calamity. It does not become the Parliament of the country to be silent. The expression of our feelings may be late, but even in that lateness some propriety may be observed if to-night we sanction the expression of the public sorrow and ratify, as it were, the record of a nation's woe. It is with these feelings that I shall support the address in answer to the speech from the throne. — Benjamin Disraeli [Lord Beaconsfield].
Questions on the lesson:-Of what sentiment common to all parties does the orator speak? What does he say was its effect? What different circumstances enhanced the admiration of the Prince's discharge of duty? What are the three instances of fulfilment of great duties by the Prince which are referred to? What duty is it said that Prince Albert created for himself? What are some of those things for which posterity will appreciate him? How is the opposition explained to which he occasionally was subjected? What was the difficulty of condoling with the Crown in this instance? What evidence of the universality of the sorrow at the Prince's loss is referred to?
THE FAERIE QUEEN.
1. “The appearance of the Faerie Queen," it has been said, “is the one critical event in the annals of English poetry; it settled, in fact, the question whether there was to be such a thing as English poetry or no. The older national verse which had blossomed and died in Caedmon sprang suddenly into a grander life in Chaucer, but it closed again in a yet more complete death."
2. When Spenser in 1590 accompanied his patron Sir Walter Raleigh to London with the first three books of the Faerie Queen, “no great imaginative poem had broken years."
the silence of English literature for nearly two hundred
“From that moment the stream of English poetry has flowed on without a break. There have been times, as in the years which immediately followed, when England has become a nest of singing birds;' there have been times when song was scant and poor; but there never has been a time when England was wholly without a singer."
3. The Faerie Queen is an allegory, and is intended to portray all the Moral Virtues,' such as Holiness, Temperance, Chastity, and Friendship. To each virtue a knight is assigned who shall be its patron and defender. The knight's actions, feats of arms, and chivalry, express the operation of that virtue whose protector he is, while the foes whom he encounters are the vices and unru appetites that oppose themselves to it.
4. In a letter from the author to Sir Walter Raleigh the structure of the immortal allegory is fully explained. The Faerie Queen is celebrating her annual feast, which lasts for twelve days. Each day an event occurs, giving occasion to twelve adventures in the course of the festival, in which as many knights are prominent, and it is their achievements that were to be recorded in the twelve books of which the poem was intended to consist.
5. The first adventure arose in this fashion. In the beginning of the feast there presented himself a tall clownish young man, who, falling before the Queen of Faeries, desired a boon as the manner then was—which during that feast she might not refuse. The boon he desired was that he might have the achievement of any adventure which during that feast should happen. That being granted, he rested him on the floor, unfit through his rusticity for a better place. 6. Soon after a fair lady entered in mourning weeds,
riding on a white ass, with a dwarf behind her leading a warlike steed that bore the arms of a knight, and his spear in the dwarf's hand. She, falling before the Queen of Faeries, complained that her father and mother, an ancient king and queen, had been by a huge dragon many years shut up in a brazen castle, who suffered them not to issue from it. She therefore besought the Faerie Queen to assign her some one of her knights to take on him that exploit.
7. Presently that clownish person starting up desired this adventure. The queen greatly wondered, and the lady urged many reasons against it, yet he earnestly pressed his desire. In the end, the lady told him that unless that armour which she brought would serve him, he could not succeed in the enterprise. The armour being forthwith put upon him with all the needful furnishings, he seemed the goodliest man in all the company.
8. Straightway taking on him knighthood, and mounting the strange courser, the Knight of the Red Cross or Holiness went forth with the lady. It is with this incident that the First Book begins.
A gentle Knight was pricking on the plain,
Yclad in mighty arms and silver shield,
Full jolly Knight he seemed, and fair did sit,
9. And on his breast a bloody Cross he bore,
The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,