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which they contended), did not muster much more than 100 members ; but their numbers were gradually increased under the skilful leadership of their chiefs, and were now nearly doubled ; they had a sweeping majority still in the House of Lords ; and the Whig cabinet had been weakened by the secession of its allest members, Earl Grey having from age retired, and Lord Althorp, by his father's death, took his seat in the House of Lords, while the Duke of Richmond, Lord Stanley, and Sir James Graham, deemed it their duty no longer to hold office under them. Upon Earl Spencer's death, Lord Melbourne waited on the King to propose Lord John Russel as the ministerial leader in the House of Commons. His Majesty thought the ministry unfit to carry on the business of the country, and in particular he was averse to Lord Brougham longer remaining Chancellor ; he therefore told Lord Melbourne not to trouble himself with the proposed official arrangements, because he intended to send for the Duke of Wellington, to whom a letter was immediately transmitted. Next day the Duke waited on his Majesty, and advised him to entrust the government to Sir Robert Peel ; and, as Sir Robert with his Lady, had left England in the month of October, to spend the winter in Italy, he generously and nobly offered to carry on the public business till his return. This course was adopted ; and as a temporary arrangement, His Grace was appointed First Lord of the Treasury, and swore in a principal Secretary, of State. On the 21st of November, Lord Lyndhurst received the Great Seal, and took the oaths as Lord Chancellor. Soon after, Sir Robert Peel returned, had an audience of the King, and accepted the premiership. Overtures were made to Lord Stanley and
Sir J. Graham, to take office, but they declined, though favourable to the administration, to pledge themselves so far. All official arrangements were completed by the end of November. The composition of the ministry resembled much that of the Wellington cabinet, in its details. The Duke of Wellington was Secretary of State for Foreign Af- ! fairs, and Sir Robert Peel First Lord of the Treasury, and Chancellor of the Exchequer. The principles on which Ministers proposed to act, were explained in a clear and able address of Sir Robert Peel to his constituents at Tamworth. On the 30th of December, Parliament was dissolved, and a new one convoked for the 19th of February, 1835.
The issue of this attempt is well known. The Whigs and Radicals united together against the Conservatives, who, in spite of most strenuous exertions mustered little more than 300, but though they had not a majority, this was sufficient to show their growing strength in the country. The Conservatives, if their addresses and professions meant any thing, intended rational reform ; the Liberals declared that the measures of reform demanded by the advancement of society, could not be expected from them. Sir Robert Peel, and his ministry, demanded only a fair trial, and leisure to bring forward those plans of rational improvement, which were consistent with the constitution. But the opposition refused to give them time to ingratiate themselves with the country, and resolved to try their strength upon the appointment of the Speaker, nominating Mr. Abercrombie, in opposition to Mr. Manners Sutton, who had held the office, with the approbation of all parties, for many years ; in a House of 626 members, the Whig candidate was elected, by a majority of ten. Next came the debate on the address, to which an amendment was moved in both Houses, and carried in the Commons. In the House of Lords, the Duke of Wellington took the opportunity of vindicating his procedure in assuming the reins of affairs at his sovereign's command, till Sir Robert Peel should arrive : he proved that he acted in accordance with the constitution, and with the view of promoting the best interests of the country—that no inconvenience had arisen from this passing arrangement—that he had carried on only those functions of government which were absolutely necessary—that the late administration had become so shattered, as to render the formation of another, of more trust-worthy materials necessary--that he was bound to render those services at his sovereign's call--he only desired that Parliament would give them time to bring forward their measures, when they could judge of the sincerity of their professions by their practice. In the lower House, Sir Robert Peel declared that he would not give up what he thought the post of duty, till he had time to justify himself to the country, by bringing forward some of the intentions of Government; and concluded an able and forcible speech developing the plans of the administration in these words :
“ Under these circumstances, I feel it to be my first and paramount duty to stand by those trusts which have been confided to me, and to call upon the House to wait, until it sees the motions which the government is about to propose. I offer to you measures of reform, ecclesiastical and civil. I offer you the settlement of the tithe question in England --the commutation of tithes in England and Wales. I offer you reform of all proved abuses, in the Church. I offer you the redress of the grievances complained of by the Dissenters, as far as they reYou may
late to marriage and other important points. I offer you the prospect of continued peace. You may disregard my offers, and take those of others; but mine would have this advantage—that they would be more likely to be successful, and that I could act, I hope successfully, as the mediator and restorer of harmony between the two Houses. form other alliances, or connect yourselves with different extremes of parties ; but the time will come when popular excitement will abate, and when you will have nothing left but to lean for support on those who have gone on calmly and quietly-when, in short, you will have no alternative but to leave the government in our hands, or to resort to measures of coercive violence, which will render reform inefficient, and seal the fate of the British constitution."
The opposition, who wanted courage to move a direct vote of want of confidence, at last drove the ministry from office, by moving an amendment, establishing the principle of the appropriation of the revenues of the Irish Church to secular purposes ; in a House of 611 members, 322 voted in favour of it, and 289 against it ; in committe Ministers being left in a minority of 25, and again of 27, resigned, and the Melbourne ministry was re-formed.
Since that period, until July, 1841, the Duke remained in opposition. At that time he was again called upon to take a part in the direction of the affairs of this nation. During the latter part of the Melbourne Administration, it appeared evident that the Whigs were becoming very unpopular throughout the country, as well
as in the Houses of Parliament. For some time before they ceased to hold office, they had sustained many humiliating defeats on the various measures which they brought before Parliament; yet they still clung to office, till, in May last, having proposed measures which the opposition did not approve of to remedy a decreasing revenue, they were again in a minority, and Lord Melbourne tendered his resignation to the Queen. Her Majesty then sent for the Conservative leaders, and offered them the seals of office; but the terms proposed by Sir Robert Peel, not being acquiesced in by the Queen, the Whigs were recalled, and Lord Melbourne reinstated in office. But all their efforts were unavailing to carry the measures which they proposed ; and though the Whigs were in office, yet the Tories virtually were the rulers. At last, Sir Robert Peel in the House of Commons proposed a vote of want of confidence in her Majesty's Ministers, which was carried by a small majority ; and it was generally expected that Ministers would instantly resign. They, however, resolved to dissolve Par. liament, and try a new House of Commons, which they accordingly did ; but the remedy was worse than the disease : for the Conservatives gained a great accession of strength by the elections ; and when the new Parliament assembled, it was evident who were to be the ministry. The first public measure which Ministers brought forward was defeated by an overwhelming majority, and Lord Melbourne and his colleagues were compelled to resign. In the month of July, 184), the Queen sent for Sir Robert Peel, and entrusted to him the formation of a new administration, which he effected ; himself being premier, the Duke of Wellington leader in the House of Lords, with a seat in the Cabinet, but not holding any distinct office ; the other offices being held by the leading Conservatives of the day. The Duke's mental powers are