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100 years ago: May he rest in peace

19 May 2010

May 19th, 1910.

ON TUESDAY the public obsequies of his late Majesty, King Edward the Seventh, began with the stately procession from Buckingham Palace to that majestic Hall, built by the Second of our Norman kings, and rebuilt by the un­fortunate Sovereign, whom Shake­spere makes to say:—

For God’s sake, let us sit upon
       the ground
And tell sad stories of the death
       of kings.

The death of King Edward is not the subject of one of those sad stories. A short but glorious reign has been followed by such a depth and extent of mourning through­out the civilized world as has never honoured monarch before in the history of the race. To us, in par­ticular, it is profoundly gratifying that the order of the rites and cere­monies in connexion with the ob­sequies has been, not only impres­sive and stately, but infinitely more in accord with the Catholic doc-trine of the state of the departed than would have been possible a very few years ago. As a nation, even as a Church, or rather as an assemblage of Churchpeople, we still fall short of an adequate conception, but the extent to which the recognition of prayer for the dead is apparently per­mitted by public sentiment, and to which without offence it has had its place in the funeral ceremonies, is a con­vincing proof of an advance in public opinion. As we have said elsewhere, these obsequies have been and will be tomorrow not quite all that we could have wished them to be, but we are content that a cer­tain economy has been ob­served in the decision not to go too far in advance of contemporary thought.

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