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The After-glow of a Great Reign Four Addresses Delivered in St. Paul's Cathedral

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"Behold, Thou requirest truth in the inward parts."—Psalm li. 6.

We stand to-day like men who have just watched a great sunset. On some beautiful summer evening we must all of us have watched a sunset, and we know how, first of all, we see the great orb slowly decline towards the horizon; then comes the sense of coming loss; then it sets amid a blaze of glory, and then it is buried, buried for ever so far as that day is concerned, to reappear as the leader of a new dawn. In exactly the same way have we for years been watching with loving interest the declining years of our Queen, years that declined so slowly towards the horizon that we almost persuaded ourselves we should have her with us for ever. Then came, but a few weeks ago, a sudden sense of coming loss, then her sun set in a blaze of glory, and yesterday she was buried, buried from our sight, to reappear, as we believe, as a bright particular star in another world. We do not grudge her her rest. Few words can express more beautifully the thoughts of thousands than these words just put into my hand—

  "Leave her in peace, her time is fully come,    Her empire's crown    All day she bore, nor asked to lay it down,  Now God has called her home.

  Let sights and sounds of earth be all forgot,    Her cares and tears    She hath endured thro' her allotted years,  Now they can touch her not.

  From that fierce light which beats upon a throne    Now has she passed    Into God's stillness, cool and deep and vast,  Let Heaven for earth atone.

  All gifts but one He gave, but kept the best    Till now in store;    Now He doth add to all He gave before  His perfect gift of rest." [1]

But, just as in the sunset a beautiful and tender after-glow remains long after the sun has set, so we are gathered to-day in the tender after-glow. And I propose that we should try and gather up one by one—to learn ourselves and to tell our children, and the generations yet unborn, as some explanation of the marvellous influence which she exercised—some of the qualities of the Queen whom we have lost.

And let us first fix our minds upon something which at first sight seems so simple, but yet seems to have struck every generation of statesmen as a thing almost supernatural—and that is her marvellous truthfulness. Said a great statesman, "She is the most perfectly truthful being I have ever met." "Perfect sincerity" is the description of another. Now what that must have meant to England, for generation after generation of statesmen to have had at the centre of the empire a truthful person, a person who never used intrigue, who never was plotting or planning, or working behind the backs of those who were responsible to advise her—to have had someone perfectly sincere to deal with in the great things of state—that is something which must be left for the historian who chronicles the Victorian era thoroughly to paint. No, my friends, our task now is far simpler: it is to ask what is the secret of this marvellous truthfulness, can we obtain it ourselves, and does God demand it...?