Uncrowned King

Memories of Glasgow

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert,
page 5 of 13

millennium! The object of this Exhibition was clearly shown by the Prince himself, in a speech which he made at a dinner in the London Mansion House. “It was,” he said, “to give the world a true test, a living picture of the point of industrial development at which the whole of mankind has arrived, and a new starting point from which all nations will be able to direct their further exertions.” The idea was sublime, and worthy of the greatest intellect; but its very grandeur and far-reaching principles made its realisation all the more difficult to attain, and it met with stubborn and persistent opposition both in Parliament and in many scientific and commercial circles. The Prince Consort, however, clung tenaciously to the great idea-clung as if he had received the prophetic assurance of its success; and the results showed in the most brilliant manner his far-seeing wisdom. On the 1st of May, 1851, there was opened in Hyde Park that magnificent palace of iron and glass, filled with shining treasures from every land, which was the world’s wonder. Cunning work in ivory and gold, silks, draperies, and cloth of gold from Oriental looms dazzled the eyes and awoke strange dreams of Eastern lands at every turn. Miles of galleries stretched on all sides, containing priceless gems of art from every land. Add to this the picturesque costumes of the thousands of visitors from Eastern lands, and some idea may be had of the magnificence of the scene. The exhibition was opened by the Queen and the Prince Consort on the 1st of May, a memorable day in London. Thirty thousand people, representative of all the nations and peoples in the civilised world, many of whom were arrayed in barbaric splendour, gathered together within the building for the opening ceremony, which was impressive in the extreme; and, as these thousands of every race, and  kindred, and tongue, poured in through the great entrance — surmounted by the appropriate words chosen from the Holy Scriptures by the Prince, “The Earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof” — and filled transept and aisle of that gorgeous palace, the scene seemed to be a dream, if not a realization, of that time when men shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks. Nearly one million people lined the way between the Exhibition and Buckingham Palace, and in all the proceedings no accident occurred, nor had the police any trouble by the conduct of any single one in the great crowd. “It was impossible,” wrote Lord Palmerston, “for the invited guests of a lady’s drawing-room to have conducted themselves with more perfect propriety than did this sea of human beings.” There have been grander Exhibitions in the world‘s history, notably those of Paris in 1878 and 1889, and in Glasgow in 1888, but no one since has excited such world-wide interest. It was unique in the world‘s history — a new departure in the reign of civilization, a binding of nations together through the triumphs of art, science, commerce, and peace; and the glory and results of it and those which have come after it will be for ever associated with the illustrious name of him who conceived its plan, and wrought out its completion, “Albert the Good.”

For the ten years succeeding this triumph of peace, which has had a more enduring and greater influence in the advancement of civilization than countless victories in war, the Prince was securely enthroned in the hearts of the people. They saw that, after the beloved ones of his own household, they occupied the supreme place in his affections and his life; and this, from their own high standpoint in patriotism and moral culture, they considered no mean honour. This position he proudly held without dispute till death took him


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