§ My Lords (continued the noble Earl), I have next to move: "To offer His Majesty our loyal congratulations upon his auspicious Accession, to assure His Majesty of our devotion to His Royal person, and of our sure conviction that his Reign will, under the favour of Divine Providence, be distinguished by unswerving efforts to promote the virtue, prosperity, and contentment of the Realm, and to guard the rights and liberties of His Majesty's faithful 827 people." With one heart, we all wish His Majesty well. He is well known to many of us. We know that he was brought up plainly and simply in an ideal English home. He has enjoyed what by common consent, I think, we all regard as the best early education and training that a man can have in the British Navy. His Majesty has also enjoyed the advantage of knowing more of his wide Dominions, not merely than any Sovereign who has gone before him, but, perhaps, more even than any one of his own subjects. He has enjoyed, too, the benefit, the incalculable benefit, of continued and close association with his illustrious father, and I do not think that the paternal and filial relation has ever been more happily exemplified than in the case of his late Majesty and the present King. By his side he has in his Gracious Consort one who we know will help him to bear the glorious burden of the British Monarchy. It is our earnest prayer that His Majesty's reign may be long and prosperous and that it may in no way fall short of the two illustrious reigns that have gone before it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I beg to second the Motion which has been made by the noble Earl opposite. To-night we are all ready to follow him, and, indeed, I think the House owes him a debt for the manner in which he has expressed the many feelings which rush to our minds on this melancholy occasion. It was no easy task for the noble Earl to clothe, as he has done, in appropriate and fitting words, the feelings of profound dismay which this great calamity has occasioned to us; our feelings of sympathy with those who are mourning not only a great public misfortune, but a poignant domestic calamity; and, again, those feelings of hopefulness and of confidence with which we look forward to the reign which has just begun.
My Lords, a great misfortune has indeed befallen the British nation, the whole British Empire, and the whole civilised community of the world. The nation mourns a Sovereign to whom it was bound by ties, not only hereditary, but personal—ties which the noble Earl has described better than I can attempt to describe them—and if we can at such a moment as this find any grain of comfort, it is indeed satisfactory to think that the nation is absolutely unanimous at the present time. We know at this moment no distinction of party, of race, of religious 828 persuasion. We all stand shoulder to shoulder in our desire to express, however imperfectly, our grief and consternation at the common misfortune which has come upon us. The Empire has lost an illustrious chief—that vast Empire throughout the length and breadth of which the late King was regarded by all his subjects with an affection not less than that which he commanded within these islands. To those subjects His Majesty stood as the outward symbol of Imperial unity, and I doubt whether any but those who have had the honour of serving the Crown in different parts of the Empire really know to what extent throughout that Empire the feeling of reverence for the Sovereign and the Royal House prevails.
But, my Lords, it is not only within the Empire that the King's death has occasioned an irreparable loss. I am sure your Lordships must have listened with approbation to the sketch which the noble Earl gave us of the part played by His late Majesty in connection with the foreign affairs of this country. His Majesty had established with the chiefs of other States and with the public men of other States relations which enabled him to bear, unostentatiously and strictly within the limits of the Constitution, a distinguished and useful part in international affairs, and, to my mind, amongst the many remarkable attributes of the late King none was more remarkable than his power of creating what I can only describe as an atmosphere of international goodwill and good feeling—an atmosphere the presence of which diminished asperities, if asperities were there, made difficulties easier of solution, if there were difficulties, and contributed immensely, if I may use the words of the Address, to the consolidation of peace and concord throughout the world. At this moment I am convinced that there is not a Chancellerie in Europe which does not recognise that with the death of King Edward VII a great international force has been removed. It was a force winch always operated for avowable reasons for the public good, and I think we are justified in believing that it will not cease entirely to operate now that he has left us.
My Lords, this is no time for elaborate appreciations of the characteristic qualities which enabled His late Majesty to earn for himself the great position which he occupied both in and out of this country. Some of us who are present here to-night had the 829 privilege of hearing the speech which he addressed to the Privy Council at the opening of his reign. Your Lordships may recollect that that speech contained a threefold pledge—the pledge that His Majesty would walk in the footsteps of his late mother, the pledge that he desired to be a constitutional Sovereign in the strictest acceptation of the word, and, lastly, the pledge that so long as breath remained in his body, so long would he work for the good of his people. How completely and how nobly has that threefold pledge been redeemed! And, my Lords, does not the pathos of that third pledge come home to us at this moment as we read the accounts of his Majesty's last hours, when the vital spark was already beginning to burn feebly but when the resolve to work for the good of his people burned on undiminished till the end came.
His Majesty's position at home and abroad was certainly not due to any studied endeavour to force himself into a position of prominence either upon the national or upon the international stage. It was not due to any deliberate pursuit of popularity for the sake of popularity, but to his spontaneous, instinctive, I would almost say irrepressible kindliness, and to the tact and good temper which were a second nature with him and which never forsook him throughout his life. It was the possession of these qualities which enabled him to feel as his people felt, to share our emotions, our joys, and our sorrows, to take part in our aspirations and hopes, to rejoice with us in our achievements, if anything was achieved and well done; it was the possession of these qualities which led the people of this country to regard His late Majesty, not only as a ruler, but as a friend, and to reverence in him, not only the Sovereign, but the man.
The late King never spared himself. Few probably know how heavy was the burden which he had to bear. Nor should we forget that that burden was borne, not only during the nine years, all too short, in which he occupied the Throne, but before his accession and during the latter years of the reign of his illustrious mother, when it was her pleasure to delegate to the then Prince of Wales many of the duties and obligations which naturally pertain to the Sovereign. In this House many of us will no doubt call to mind the fact that in those days His Majesty sat not infrequently on those benches [the Cross Benches] and took an 830 interest and sometimes a part in the business of the House.
My Lords, in out public grief we cannot allow ourselves to forget the great private sorrow of those members of the Royal House who are at this moment mourning for the late King, and most of all, surely, our thoughts go out to that illustrious lady who, from the day when we first welcomed her to these shores, nearly half a century ago, has ever stood in the eyes of the people of this country as the embodiment of all that is most graceful and tender, gentle and sympathetic in a woman. We can scarcely bear to think of the Queen-Mother in her desolation. I, at any rate, am quite unequal to the attempt of expressing to the House the feelings which every member of it must entertain towards her at this moment. This, perhaps, we may be permitted to say—that the Royal mourners will receive no truer and more heartfelt expressions of sympathy than those which this House is ready to tender to them.
And now it remains for me merely to add one word to what has fallen from the noble Earl in regard to our feelings towards the Sovereign who has assumed his father's place. We offer him the full measure of our allegiance and devotion. King George the Fifth is not a stranger to us. He has already shown his aptitude for the great task which lies before him. Already we recognise in the son the presence of many of the qualities which served to endear the father. In the midst of our sorrow, we can look forward with confidence to the future. The reign which has closed has been honourable and happy for the nation and for the Throne. The reign which is now opening will, we believe, under Providence furnish a chapter not less creditable to the history of this country and not less honourable to the annals of the Royal House. I beg to second.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (LORD LOREBURN)
My Lords, the Question is, That a humble Address be presented to His Majesty:
To assure His Majesty of the heartfelt sympathy of this House in his grievous affliction and loss by the death of the late King, His Majesty's Father, of blessed and glorious memory.
That we shall ever remember with grateful affection the zeal and success with which 831 our late Sovereign laboured to consolidate the peace and concord of the World, to aid every merciful endeavour for the alleviation of human suffering, and to unite in justice and freedom all races and classes of his subjects with His Imperial Throne.
To offer His Majesty our loyal congratulations upon his auspicious Accession, to assure His Majesty of our devotion to His Royal person, and of our sure conviction that his Reign will, under the favour of Divine Providence, be distinguished by unswerving efforts to promote the virtue, prosperity, and contentment of the Realm, and to guard the rights and liberties of His Majesty's faithful people.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered accordingly: The said Address to be presented to His Majesty by the Lords with White Staves.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The Question is, That an Address of Condolence be sent to Her Majesty the Queen-Mother to assure Her Majesty of the deep and warm sympathy which this House feels for Her Majesty in this melancholy time of sorrow and of irreparable loss, and that this House and the Nation will ever preserve towards Her Majesty sentiments of unalterable reverence and affection.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, nemine dissentiente, and ordered accordingly: The said Address to be presented to Her Majesty by the Duke of Northumberland, the Marquess of Bath, the Lord Bishop of Winchester, the Lord Bishop of Ripon, the Lord Brassey, and the Lord Welby.