THE humbleness of the Queen as a woman, and her authority as a monarch can be traced through most of what she wrote about this time; themes so different, yet so sincere, that it is not easy to believe they belonged to one person. She had warned Mr. Gladstone,1 when he was to speak at the Lord Mayor's banquet, that an incautious word, "especially" from "himself" might do "irreparable mischief." There must be no doubt that the government was determined "to maintain the law and put down the terrible spirit of lawlessness and violence in Ireland." Seven weeks later, after she had written in her journal of being
"sadly deficient ... oversensitive and irritable,"she wrote to Mr. Gladstone again,
"She thanks him for his good wishes, and prays that the heavy clouds which now surround the political horizon and her Empire may by God's blessing be dispelled, and that Mr. Gladstone may be guided by Him to do what is right and just."
But the Queen had also written, 2
" ... the more one does for the Irish the more unruly and ungrateful they seem to be."It was a harsh, impatient comment on a growing tragedy. The lawlessness was bred of poverty, and both seemed beyond control. In County Galway there was a policeman for every forty-seven adult males, and a soldier for every ninety-seven. The inspiration of the organized revolts was the Irish Land League, formed to wrest the agricultural areas from the English-Protestant landlords. Under the leadership of Charles Stewart Parnell, the tenants were boycotting the landowners, refusing to pay rent and intimidating servants and workers so that they dared not labour for their English masters. As Lord Beaconsfield had prophesied, something
"worse even than famine and pestilence"had come to the unhappy country.
Murders, mutilation of cattle, and burning of farm buildings in Ireland forced the British government into action, and a Bill for the Protection of Persons and Property, and an Irish Land Bill, were brought before the Commons. The Land Bill was based on three F's, Fixity of Tenure, Fair Rents, and Free Sale, which Lord Beaconsfield described as three Fiddlesticks. The Protection of Persons and Property Bill stirred up such violence, led by Parnell, that an Urgency Resolution had to be brought in, and the angry Irish members were
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Publication information: Book title: Reign of Queen Victoria. Contributors: Hector Bolitho - Author. Publisher: Macmillan. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1948. Page number: 299.
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