Thursday, March 22, 2012

Diamond Jubilee

Watching The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee address to both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall the day before yesterday, I was struck by the extraordinary constitutional gulf that separates the present sovereign, in her stoical conscientiousness, from Queen Victoria, with whom she alone now shares the distinction of having reigned over the United Kingdom for more than sixty years. It was Queen Victoria, after all, who, towards the end of her life, facing the gloomy prospect of yet another (final) dose of Mr. Gladstone, confided to her daughter, the Empress Frederick: “These are trying moments, and it seems to me a defect in our much-famed constitution to have to part with an admirable gov[ernmen]t like L[or]d Salisbury’s for no question of any importance or any particular reason but merely on account of the number of votes.” To her credit, Queen Victoria did part with governments on these grounds, if only reluctantly, and one would be naïve to suppose that Queen Elizabeth II did not from time to time privately like some governments better than others—though we are never likely to learn which ones they were. Yet it is an awesome exercise of imagination to attempt to grasp the magnitude of the changes to her peoples and realms that have taken place during this remarkable reign, and to appreciate the calm resolution and strength with which, at the age of eighty-four, Her Majesty now publicly re-dedicates herself to their service.


  1. Watching in person?

    1. Alas, no. I caught up with H.M. on YouTube. I would love to have been there though.

  2. I asked because you've been posting from the U.K. (I think).

    1. Yes, you're right. I've been going back and forth a lot lately. ut just now I am in New Haven, Conn., enjoying the slightly counter-intuitive warm spring weather.

  3. Well, and again...


    "To-day," said Mr. Dooley, "her gracious Majesty Victorya, Queen iv Great Britain an' that part iv Ireland north iv Sligo, has reigned f'r sixty long and tiresome years."

    "About th' time th' lord chamberlain wint over to tell her she was queen, an' she came out in her nitey to hear th' good news, I was announced into this wurruld iv sin
    an' sorrow. So ye see we've reigned about th' same lenth iv time, an' I ought to be cillybratin' me di'mon' jubilee. I wud, too, if I had anny di'mon's.

    "Great happenin's have me an' Queen Victorya seen in these sixty years. Durin' our binificent prisince on earth th' nations have grown r-rich an' prosperous. Great Britain has ixtinded her domain until th' sunniver sets on it. No more do th' original owners iv th' sile, they bein' kept movin' be th' polis. While she was lookin' on in England, I was lookin' on in this counthry. I have seen America spread out fr'm th' Atlantic to th' Pacific, with a branch office iv the Standard Ile Comp'ny in ivry hamlet. I've seen th' shackles dropped fr'm th' slave,
    so's he cud be lynched in Ohio. I've seen this gr-reat city desthroyed be fire fr'm De Koven Sthreet to th' Lake View pumpin' station, and thin rise felix-like fr'm its ashes, all but th' West Side, which was not burned. I've seen Jim Mace beat Mike McCool, an' Tom Allen beat Jim
    Mace, an' somebody beat Tom Allen, an' Jawn Sullivan beat him, an' Corbett beat Sullivan, an' Fitz beat Corbett; an', if I live to cillybrate me goold-watch-an'-chain jubilee, I may see some wan put it all over Fitz.

    "Oh, what things I've seen in me day an' Victorya's! Think iv that gran' procission iv lithry men,--Tinnyson an' Longfellow an' Bill Nye an' Ella Wheeler Wilcox an' Tim Scanlan an'--an' I can't name thim all: they're too manny. An' th' brave gin'rals,--Von Molkey an' Bismarck an' U.S. Grant an' gallant Phil Shurdan an' Coxey. Think iv thim durin' me reign. An' th' invintions,--th' steam-injine an' th' printin'-press an' th' cotton-gin an' the gin sour an' th' bicycle an' th' flyin'-machine
    an' th' nickel-in-th'-slot machine an' th' Croker machine an' th' sody fountain an'--crownin' wurruk iv our civilization--th' cash raygisther.
    What gr-reat advances has science made in my time an' Victorya's!

    "Glory be, whin I look back fr'm this day iv gin'ral rejoicin' in me rhinestone jubilee, an' see what changes has taken place an' how manny people have died an' how much betther off th' wurruld is, I'm proud iv
    mesilf. War an' pest'lence an' famine have occurred in me time, but I count thim light compared with th' binifits that have fallen to th' race since I come on th' earth."

    "What ar-re ye talkin' about?" cried Mr. Hennessy, in deep disgust. "All this time ye've been standin' behind this bar ladlin' out disturbance to th' Sixth Wa-ard, an' ye haven't been as far east as Mitchigan Avnoo in
    twinty years. What have ye had to do with all these things?"

    "Well," said Mr. Dooley, "I had as much to do with thim as th' queen."