Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

CONSERVATIVE REASCENDANCY CONSIDERED.

OURS is an age of peculiar impor- of the present—"England has not tance. Events seem to be crowded loved coalitions." Well might he into a small space of time which, if, “appeal from that coalition to that spread over half a century, would yet public opinion which governs this mark the time as one of peril, action, country,” and before whose searching and renown. In the political world tribunal that unprincipled combinawe view a rapid succession of excit- tion must soon be brought. If he ing scenes. The calm of peace yields desired revenge, he has it now. A to the turmoil of war, and Europe, government of “all the talents," conbut lately placid, is now rocked to taining, as we are told, within its its very base, and every nation on ranks all the men of official experithe Continent seems torn with present ence, administrative ability, of parevils or convulsed in the contempla- liamentary renown, and so forth, tion of those to come. The strife of calling down upon them the contempt nations has doubtless called forth all of Parliament and the scorn of the the energies of mankind; and though country, suc the Derby admiEngland is removed from the sphere nistration. Forced to abandon meaof action, and the immediate influence sure after measure, fairly vanquished of the war, yet it cannot be said but in those with which they proceed, that she, too, lies in peril, and par- obliged to fall back upon their own takes the general restlessness of the imagined talent and ability, which times. It becomes her, then, to con- must at any sacrifice of character be sider in what lies her safety, and into preserved at the service of the country, whose hands she should commit the they are evidently, to all men but guidance of her affairs at this moment themselves, and a few of their own of danger.

devoted adherents, eliciting the pity Is not England, too, a sharer in of their friends and the derision of this general convulsion ? Let us look their enemies. But, then, we are told to her senate, the heart of this great that it is the war which prevents them nation, where all the movements by from carrying their measures ; that which she is agitated can be seen and last session they carried their budget, analysed. First, we see the Whigs India bill, &c., with large majorities, quarrelling amongst themselves, and which they regard as a sign that they their consequent fall from power. possess the confidence of Parliament, Next, we see the Conservative party, and that now Parliament and the with the general acquiescence of the country, with their attention distracted country, installed in power. Ten by the war, simply refuse to legislate. short months have elapsed, and we We protest against such arguments see that Government, after having as these. It is introducing a dangerconferred, in its short tenure of office, ous principle, though it may serve as lasting benefits upon the country, an excuse for clinging to office with a now falling, though by a slight majo- disgraceful pertinacity. But does it rity, before a combination of all those not occur to them, that probably the various sects, panting for office, which reason they carried their measures range between conservatism and tur- last year with such a semblance of bulent democracy-between Popery triumph, was in consequence of that on the one hand, and practical atheism forbearance-nay, even favour-with on the other; at war amongst them- which every government, new to selves, yet combined together against office, is regarded ; that it was, to a a Government which seemed determin- great extent, the result of that dised to legislate for the country, and not organisation of their opponents which for the exclusive interests of any one ever follows defeat; and that the party. Well might the Minister ex- people, dazzled with appearances, claim, as he fell before the machina- were willing to adroit that we had a tions of his enemies, prescient of the government which was worthy of the

while contemplating the events confidence of the country. But how have these feelings been dispelled ? testant religion, and justice to all Credulity or connivance, disgraceful parties in the State. Unity of sentiin such keen-sighted and patriotic ment amongst the members of a govstatesmen, has done it all-Parliament ernment is of the greatest importance has lost confidence in them, and the to the happiness and welfare of the country contemns them. Moreover, people. There never, probably, was blinded by their confidence in their a Cabinet in which there were so own talents, which has now become many “open questions" as the prea byword among sensible men, they sent. Since so many of them are still declare they carry with them the Peelites, we may as well have the confidence of the country, because in opinion of Sir Robert Peel himself on all matters connected with the war those self-same open questions. We they still possess majorities. Such subjoin an extract of a speech delivreasoning as this does not hold. The ered in 1840 by that eminent statesreason that they carry their financial man, on a motion of want of confimeasures so decisively through the dence in Ministers, in which he refers, House is, that many, who do not feel without any ambiguity of expression, so strongly as others on the injustice to the fatality of open questions :of the measures proposed, are willing

“ But there is a new resource for an to support those measures rather than have it appear on the Continent ingenious device of open questions, the

incompetent Administration—there is the that the House of Commons has re

cunning scheme of adding to the strength fused the sinews of war at the very of a weak government by proclaiming commencement of the struggle. It is its disunion. It will be a fatal policy, not the war which prevents their indeed, if that which has hitherto been carrying other measures, it is the war an exception, and always an unfortunate wbich enables them to carry what exception in recent times, is hereafter to they do.

constitute the rule of Government. If But how has this been brought every government may say, "We feel about?-how is it that this Govern- pressed by those behind us—we find ourment has so rapidly lost the farour of selves unable, by steadily maintaining the people, and been reduced the

our own opinions, to command the maposition of being a Government on suf. jority and retain the confidence of our ferance? The reason is to be found in let us make each question an open ques

followers,our remedy is an easy one — that general discontent and excite- tion, and thereby destroy every obstacle ment which from Europe have infected to every possible combination ; '- what England. Men are excited at what will be the consequence? The exclusion is passing abroad, and distrustful of of honourable and able men from the affairs within. The want of union and conduct of affairs, and the unprincipled mutual distrust which exist in head- coalition of the refuse of every party. quarters, is spread throughout the The right honourable gentleman has said kingdom. Those feelings of distrust

that there have been instances of 'open and disagreement existing in the questions' in the recent history of this Government become every day more

country. There have been ; but there.

has scarcely been one that has not been apparent, and add to the anxiety with pregnant with evil, and which has not which its motions are regarded. This been branded by an impartial posterity distrust and anxiety must be prevalent with censure and disgrace. He said, whilst this state of things continues. that in 1782 Mr Fox made ParliamentIt is only by the reascendancy of the ary Reform an open question ; that Mr Conservative party that they can Pitt did so on the Slave-trade; and that the be surmounted, and by the advent Catholic Question was an open one. Why, to power of men who have confi. if ever lessons were written for your indence in each other, who have unity struction, to guard you against the recurof sentiment amongst themselves,

rence to open questions, you will find and who are backed by united

them in these melancholy examples. The

first instance was the coalition of Mr Fox followers; who have, each and all, and Lord North, which could not have the same objects in view - viz., a

taken place without open questions. firm resistance to Russian aggression Does the right honourable gentleman and tbe establishment of a durable know that that very fact—the union in peace, the maintenance of our Pro- office of men who had differed, and con

Q

VOL. LXXVI.-NO. CCCCLXVI.

tinued to differ on great constitutional shuffling conduct of unprincipled poliand vital questions - produced such a

ticians, degree of discontent and disgust, as to

Such were the sentiments of Sir lead to the disgraceful expulsion of that Government? The second instance was

Robert Peel with regard to open questhat of the Slave-trade ; but has not

tions in the Melbourne Cabinet : how that act of Mr Pitt (the permitting of much more completely those remarks the Slave-trade to be an open question) apply to the present Government it been more condemned than any other is needless to point out. Again are act of his public life? The next instance the open questions in the Melbourne cited was that of the Catholic Question. Cabinet vigorously attacked ; but I have had some experience of the evils this time in the House of Lords, which arose from making Catholic eman

and by a more energetic and fiery cipation an open question. All parties in

orator : this House were equally responsible for them. Fox made it an open question ; “My Lords,Idem sentire de republica' Pitt made it an open question ; Lord has been in all times, and amongst the Liverpool made it an open question ; best of statesmen, a bond of union at once Canning made it an open question. Each intelligible, honourable, conducive to the had to plead an urgent necessity for common weal. But there is another kind tolerating disunion in the Cabinet on this of union formed of baser materials-a tie great question ; but there cannot be a that knits together far different natures, doubt that the practical result of that dis- the ' eadem velle atque nolle,' and of this union was to introduce discord amongst it has been known and been said, ' ea depublic men,

and to paralyse the vigour of mum, inter malos, est prime amicitia.' the executive government. Every act of The abandonment of all opinions, the saadministration was tainted by disunion crifice of every sentiment, the preference in the Cabinet. Every party was jealous of sordid interest to honest principle, the of the predominance of the other. Each utter abdication of the power to act as party must be represented in the govern. conscience dictates and sense of duty rement of that very country which required, commends---such is the vile dross of which above all things, a united and resolute the links are made which bind profligate Government. There must be a lord-lieu- men together in a 'covenant of shame;' tenant of one class of opinions, a secretary a confederacy to seek their own advanceof the opposite, beginning their adminis- ment at the expense of every duty ;-and tration in harmony, but in spite of them. this, my Lords, is the literal meaning of selves becoming each the nucleus of a open questions.' It is that each has his party, gradually converting reciprocal known recorded opinions, but that each is confidence into jealousy and distrust. It willing to sacrifice them rather than break was my conviction of the evils of such a up the government to which he belongs : state of things~ of the long experience the ' velle' is to keep in office, the 'nolle of distracted councils, of the curse of an to keep out all antagonists; and none open question, as it affected the practical dare speak his mind in his official capacity government of Ireland-it was this convic- without losing the firmitas amicitiæ, by tion, and not the fear of physical force, shaking the foundations of the Governthat convinced me that the policy must ment.” be abandoned. I do not believe that the making the Catholic question an open

Here is a splendid outburst of vehequestion facilitated the ultimate settle

ment denunciation. If that could be ment of it. If the decided friends of applied with justice to the Government emancipation had refused to unite in gov. of Lord Melbourne, if such an invecernment with its opponents, the question tive as that is an index of the state of would have been settled at an earlier opinion in the country at that time, period, and (as it ought to have been) with reference to the dissensions in under better auspices. So much for the the Whig Cabinet, how much more encouraging examples of the right honour applicable is it to the Coalition of the able gentleman. They were fatal excep- present day, with regard to whose tions from the general policy of Governmembers, putting out of sight the ment. If, as I before observed, such exceptions are to constitute the future rule question of Free Trade, which is now of Government, there is an end to public

the law of the land, there is hardly confidence in the honour and integrity

a question of public importance to of great political parties, a severance of which we can point as an example all ties which constitute party conneo

that idem sentire de republicâ' is tions, a premium upon the shabby and their bond of union. Discontent

[ocr errors]

and anxiety may well prevail when of war; and the only charitable conwe have, in times so important as struction which we can give to the pasthese, a Ministry in power so disunited, sage is, that he-our helmsman in the and composed of such discordant ele- storm-has entered upon his dotage, ments, such base materials as the pre- and returned to the proverbial folly of sent, and backed by followers who, childhood. If his sentiments are the true to their nature, are constantly result of mere folly, then he may quarrelling amongst themselves. Look properly be charged with credulity; at the diversity of sentiment displayed if his friendship for the Czar reguin their recorded speeches on that sub• lates his conduct, then it is conniv. juct which, more than any other, is ance for which he is answerable. uppermost in the minds of the people. In either sepse he is unfit for his ofThere is Lord John Russell in the fice. There may be, for aught we know House of Commons inveighing against –indeed there probably are—others the criminal ambition of the Czar of in the Cabinet of the same frame of Russia, declaring that “this enormous mind. The man who could denounce power has got to such a pitch, that Turkey as a country full of anomalies even in its moderation it resembles the and inconsistencies, and endeavour ambition of other states ;”, arguing with all the force of his "sanctimonious that that power must be checked; tell- rhetoric" toescite an antipathy to that ing the people of England that they State, and despair at her fate, just at must be prepared to enter the contest the moment when it was necessary to with a stout heart and a willing mind, rouse the people against Russian agand then solemnly invoking the God of gression, was merely supporting the justice to prosper her Majesty's arms, Emperor's theory of the “sick man,' to defend the right! We have the and cannot be said to have any definite Home Secretary and the Earl of Cla- ideas with reference to the aggressive rendon completely subscribing to these policy of Russia, to check which we are sentiments; but we have the Prime at war; or any very great sympathy Minister, who more than any other with that country to defend which wo man ought, now that war is declared, are also at war. Here is discordancy to be imbued with hostile feelings in the Cabinet on the most vital quesagainst Russian aggression, and deter- tion; and there is probably as much on mined to carry on the war with vigour, every other question that is brought eternally whiping after peace, and before the notice of the British Parlia. throwing cold water on the ardour of ment. Here is food for discontent and the people by constantly enlarging on anxiety to the people of England. Thus the horrors of war and the blessings of may their ardour be damped and their peace. They say that old age is spirits quenched long ere the struggle second childhood. England seems has concluded. And if we look at the likely soon to become aware of this fact, supporters of the Government the through dire experience. Her Pre- Ministerial party, as they are termed mier, on the Continent, is described, -there, too, we behold the same in: and rightly so, as “ the apologist of testine strife. Wbat has been the attiRussia

;" the Minister who is suppos- tude of the Manchester party with re. ed to be, more than any other, in the gard to the Government ?—what the confidence of his Sovereign. Talk of attitude of the Whig statesmen who explanation! The very fact of his en- have been “banished to invisible cortertaining sentiments with regard to ners of the senate?”—what of the Whig Russia so ambiguous, so equivocal, peers—such men, for example, as and so lenient towards the enemy of Lords Grey, Clauricarde, and others ? his country, that actually in giving Mr Bright and the Whig peers are expression to them he is mistaken for openly, though on different grounds, offering an apology for the Czar, and hostile to the Ministerial policy, the exposed to the scorn of the country others scarcely less 80. The Manchesand the distrust of Europe, seems to ter party rank amongst the regular as to be amply sufficient to disqualify supporters of the Government, yet him henceforth for ever being “ the they appeal to the Opposition to know first Minister of the first Sovereign in " whether they don't occupy a very the world ” during the eventful period absurd position” in following men who

will not lead them,

and are derisively to the reform of any particular abuse, answered in the affirmative. If they or in the amount of innovation which it criticise the course of the Government, is desirable to introduce. Hence they their opinion is regarded with the are always at variance with each other

greatest indifference and contempt.” when the time for action arrives; and Thus do matters stand, and yet Mini- this incapacitates them for carrying on sters have the audacity to affirm that the Queen's government. If popular they possess the confidence of Par- enthusiasm comes to their aid, and liament, and that it is the war which force them on in spite of themselves, prevents the success of their measures. then the case is different. The ReBut is this the front which we are to form Bill of 1832 was carried triumphpresent to our foes ? Are we to ex- antly, but by the people. Popular hibit to Russia, as our leaders in the enthusiasm supplied vigourto the exeetrife, a Government on sufferance no- cutive. Contrast this with another toriously incompetent, whether at home Reform Bill, of no very distant date, legislation or foreign negotiation? Is as regards its introduction at least, Dot Conservative reascendancy_ the though few of the present generation only salvation of the country ? Does are likely to see that bill become the not the nation at large pant for some

law of the land. The time was unthing like a Government-one which is fortunate for Whig administrators, followed by a united party-one which though backed by those who claim to is at unison in itself-one of principle themselves the name of Conservatives. and not of expediency? When we see A Russian warcarried that enthusiasm, a Government openly hostile amongst so necessary to the Whigs, through anthemselves, scorned and contemned other channel, and exposed in a ludiby the country, beaten on every point crous manner the true value of a Liby their opponents, obliged to with. beral Administration, and their dedraw measure after measure, and re- pendence upon the popular will. taining one only after it, as has been True, there was a large party in the observed before, has undergone as Senate clamorous for reform-perhaps many metamorphoses as ever Ovid de- a majority. There was no hesitation scribed—when we see all this, which amongst members to conclu that we can hardly do without being roused reform was necessary, for these are to feelings of indignation, it appears to liberal times. How, then, do we acus necessary to consider how may count for their ill - success ? By this be remedied, how may Russia adopting a happy description of their be firmly opposed, bow may England worth as statesmen, given long ago : be rescued from the pernicious effects “ Their head is at fever heat, but their of an incapable Government, and how hand is paralysed." They are not may unanimity be restored to the slow to adopt as their own any princouncils of her Majesty ?

ciple, though calculated to throw the It is very evident, that only by the country in a flame, so long as it is reascendancy of the Conservative traditionally the property of their party can these blessings be secured party. But when ihe time for action to the country. The tradition of that arrives, when that principle is to be party is, as its name implies, the pre- embodied in a bill, and that theory is servation of our institutions in Church to be reduced to a practical test, then and State. This is a definite object. comes division and discontent. One That it is a desirable one, is a conclu- portion objects to this part as too sion which is arrived at by one course sweeping, while another declares it to of reasoning, the same premises, the be too confined. This wants one resame logical inferences. Hence the medy, the other declares the wishedConservative party is a united band. for remedy will only prove an aggraA Conservative Minister cannot be a vation of the malady. There is no Minister on sufferance; a Whig Mi- hesitation in adopting any principle, nister must. The Whigs are ever de- however dangerous. Give them the sirous of change, and the so-called opportunity-the advantageous opamelioration of our institutions ; but portunity, in the eyes of politiciansfew of them agree together in the pa- of putting their plans into execution, ramount importance which attaches and immediately we behold irresolu

« AnteriorContinuar »