It is necessary now to look at the relations of our Government with other nations, and in particular with France, whose fortunes just at this time had a clearly traceable effect on our own.

For several years the Court of England had been on terms of unprecedented cordiality with the French Court. The Queen had personally visited King Louis Philippe at the Chateau d'Eu - an event which we must go back as far as the days of Henry VIII to parallel - and had contracted a warm friendship for certain members of his family, in particular for the Queen, Marie Amelie, for the widowed Duchess of Orleans, a maternal cousin of Prince Albert, and for the perfect Louise, the truthful, unselfish second wife of Leopold, King of the Belgians, and daughter of the King of the French. It was a rude shock to all the warm feelings which our Queen, herself transparently honest, had learnt to cherish for her royal friends when the French King and his Minister, Guizot, entered into that fatal intrigue of theirs, "the Spanish marriages." Isabella, the young Queen of Spain, and her sister and heiress presumptive, Louisa, were yet unmarried at the time of the visit to the Chateau d'Eu; and about that time an undertaking was given by the French to the English Government that the Infanta Louisa should not marry a French prince until her sister, the actual Queen, "should be married and have children." The possible union of the crowns of France and Spain was known for a dream of French ambition, and was equally well known to be an object of dislike and dread to other European Powers. The engagement which the French King had now given seemed therefore well calculated to disarm suspicion and promote peace; but the one was reawakened and the other endangered when it became known that he had so used his power over the Spanish court as to procure that the royal sisters of Spain should be married on one day - Isabella, the Queen, to the most unfit and uncongenial of all the possible candidates for her hand; Louisa to King Louis Philippe's son, the Duke of Montpensier. The transaction on the face of it was far from respectable, since the credit and happiness of the young Spanish Queen seemed to have hardly entered into the consideration of those who arranged for her the mariage de convenance into which she was led blindfold; but when regarded as a violation of good faith it was additionally displeasing. Queen Victoria, to whom the scheme was imparted only when it was ripe for execution, through her personal friend Louise, Queen of the Belgians, replied to the communication in a tone of earnest, dignified remonstrance; but apparently the King was now too thoroughly committed to his scheme to be deterred by any reasoning or reproaches, and the tragical farce was played out. It had no good results for France; England was chilled and alienated, but the Spanish crown never devolved on the Duchess of Montpensier. Within two little years from her marriage that princess and all the French royal family fled from France, so hastily that they had scarcely money enough to provide for their journey, and appeared in England as fugitives, to be aided and protected by the Queen, who forgot all political resentment, and remembered only her personal regard for these fallen princes.

The overthrow of the Orleans dynasty in 1848 was a complete surprise, and men have never ceased to see something disgraceful in its amazing suddenness. Here was a great king, respected for wisdom and daring, and supposed to understand at every point the character of the land he ruled, his power appearing unshaken, while it was known to be backed with an army one hundred thousand strong. And almost without warning a whirlwind of insurrection against this solid power and this able ruler broke out, and in a few wild hours swept the whole fabric into chaos. Nothing caused more surprise at the moment than the extreme bitterness of animosity which the insurgents manifested towards the king's person, unless it were the tameness with which he submitted to his fate and the precipitancy of his flight. There was something rotten in the state of things, men said, which could thus dissolve, crushed like a swollen fungus by a casual foot. And indeed, whether with perfect justice or not, Louis Philippe's Administration had come to be deemed corrupt some time ere his fall. The free-spoken Parisians had openly flouted it as such: witness a mock advertisement placarded in the streets: "A nettoyer, deux Chambres et une Cour": "Two Chambers and a Court to clean." A French Government that had been crafty, but not crafty enough to conceal the fact, that was rather contemned for plotting than dreaded for unscrupulous energy, was already in peril. The still unsubdued revolutionary spirit, working under the smooth surface of French society, was the element which accomplished the destruction of this discredited Government.

The outbreak in France acted like a spark in a powder magazine; ere long great part of Europe was shaken by the second great revolutionary upheaval, when potentates seemed falling and ancient dynasties crumbling on all sides - a period of eager hope to many, followed by despair when the reaction set in, accompanied in too many places by repressive measures of pitiless severity. The contemptuous feeling with which many Englishmen were wont to view such Continental troubles is well embodied in the lines which Tennyson put into the mouth of one of his characters, speaking of France:

   "Yonder, whiff! there comes a sudden heat, 
   The gravest citizen seems to lose his head, 
   The king is scared, the soldier will not fight. 
   The little boys begin to shoot and stab, 
   A kingdom topples over with a shriek 
   Like an old woman, and down rolls the world 
   In mock-heroics - 
   Revolts, republics, revolutions, most 
   No graver than a schoolboy's barring out; 
   Too comic for the solemn things they are, 
   Too solemn for the comic touches in them."

In this wild year 1848, which saw Revolution running riot on the Continent, England too had its share of troubles not less painfully ridiculous; the insurrection headed by Smith O'Brien, a chief of the "Young Ireland" party, coming to an inglorious end in the affray that took place at "the widow McCormick's cabbage-garden, Ballingarry," in the month of July; the greatly dreaded Chartist demonstration at Kennington Common on April 10th by its conspicuous failure having done much to damp the hopes and spirits of the party of disorder generally.

It would be easy now to laugh at the frustrated designs of the Chartist leaders and at the sort of panic they aroused in London: the vast procession, which was to have marched in military order to overawe Parliament, resolving itself into a confused rabble easily dispersed by the police, and the monster petition, that should have numbered six million signatures, transported piecemeal to the House, and there found to have but two million names appended, many fictitious; the Chartist leader, completely cowed, thanking the Home Office for its lenient treatment; or, on the other hand, London and its peaceful inhabitants, distracted with wild rumours of combat and bloodshed, apprehending a repetition of Parisian madnesses, and unaware how thoroughly the Duke of Wellington, entrusted with the defence of the capital and its important buildings, had carried out all needful arrangements. The two hundred thousand special constables sworn in to aid in maintaining law and order on that day were visible enough, and had their utility in conveying a certain impression of safety; the troops whom the veteran commander held in readiness were kept out of sight till wanted. These rebellious spirits imagining themselves formidable and free, when caught in an invisible iron network - these terrified citizens, protected all unconsciously to themselves against the impotent foe whom they dreaded - might furnish food for mirth if we did not remember the real, deep, and widespread misery which found inarticulate but piteous expression in the movement now coming to confusion under the firm assertion of necessary authority. The disturbances must needs be quieted; but hitherto it has been the glory of our Victorian statesmen to have understood that the grievances which caused them must also be dealt with. Now that all which could be deemed wise and good in Chartist demands has been conceded, orderly and quietly, the name "Chartism" has utterly lost its dread significance.

No cruelly vindictive measures of reprisal followed the collapse of the agitation; none indeed were needed. The revolutionary epidemic, which had spread hitherward from France, found our body politic in too sound a condition, and could not fasten on it; and the subsequent convulsions which shook our great neighbour hardly called forth an answering thrill in England. The strange transactions of December 1851, by means of which Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, Prince-President of the new French republic, succeeded in overthrowing that republic and replacing it by an empire of which he was the head, did indeed excite displeasure and distrust in many minds; and though it was believed that his high-handed proceedings had averted much disorder, the English Government was not prepared at once to accept all the proffered explanations of French diplomacy; but the then foreign Secretary, Lord Palmerston, by the rash proclamation of his individual approval, committed the Ministry of which he was one to a recognition of the de facto Monarch of France. This step was but the last of many instances in which Palmerston had acted without due reference to the premier's or the Sovereign's opinion - a course of conduct which had justly displeased the Queen, and had drawn from her grave and pointed remonstrances. The final transgression led to his resignation; but its effects on our relations with France remained.

Meanwhile the Emperor's consistent and probably sincere display of goodwill towards England, the apparent complacency with which the French nation acquiesced in his rule, and the outward prosperity accompanying it, did their natural work in conciliating approval, and in making men willing to forget the obscure and tortuous steps by which he had climbed to power. One day he and France were to pay for these things; but meanwhile he was a popular ruler, accepted and approved by the nation he governed, anxious for its prosperity, and earnest in keeping it friendly with Great Britain, which he had found a hospitable home in the days of his obscurity, which was again to offer an asylum to him in a day of utter disaster and overthrow, and where his life, chequered by vicissitudes stranger than any known to romance, was to come to a quiet close. It has been the singular fortune of Her Majesty to receive into the sacred shelter of her realm two dethroned monarchs, two fallen fortunes, two dynasties cast out from sovereign power, while her own throne, "broad-based upon her people's will, and compassed by the inviolate sea," has stood firm and unshaken, even by a breath. And it has been her special honour to cherish with affection, even warmer in their adversity, the friends who had gained her regard when their prosperity seemed as bright and their great position as assured as her own. Visiting the Emperor Napoleon in his splendid capital, feted and welcomed by him and his Empress with every flattering form of honour that his ingenuity could devise or his power enable him to show, she did not forget the Orleans family and their calamities, but frankly urged on her host the injustice of the confiscations with which he had requited the supposed hostility of those princes, and endeavoured to persuade him to milder measures. She visited in his company the tomb of the lamented Duke of Orleans; and her first care on returning to England was to show some kindly attention to the discrowned royalties who were now her guests. In the same spirit, in after years, she extended a friendly hand to the exiled Empress Eugenie, escaping from new revolutionary perils to English safety, and altogether declined to consider her personal regard for the lady, whose attractions had deservedly gained it in brighter days, as being in any sense complicated with matters political. The resolute loyalty with which she at once maintained her private friendships and kept them entirely apart from her public action compelled toleration from the persons most inclined to take umbrage at it.

An instance of successful and courageous enterprise on Her Majesty's part may well close this brief notice of the internal and external convulsions which for a time shook, though they did not shatter, the peace of our realm. In the late summer of 1849 a royal visit to Ireland, now just reviving from its misery, was planned and carried out with complete success; the wild Irish enthusiasm blazed up into raptures of a loyal welcome, and the Sovereign, who played her part with all the graceful perfection that her compassionate heart and quick intelligence suggested, was delighted with the little tour, from which those who shared in it prophesied "permanent good" for Ireland. At least it had a healing, beneficial effect at the moment; and perhaps more could not have been reasonably hoped. Later royal visits to the sister isle have been less conspicuous, but all fairly successful.