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* A simple misrepresentation of what passed between his MAJESTY and Lord MELBOURNE has been already contradicted on the authority of his Lordship himself, but the repetition of such a fable in The Quarterly Review requires a second exposure. Oh! that Parliament were sitting ':
It is scarcely worth while to advert to the counter-fiction of the Standard. In an article which appeared on Wednesday last, an imaginary dialogue is introduced between the King and Lord Melbourn, in which his Majesty is made to resent, with the utmost warmth, the proposal to appoint the Chief Secretary
for Ireland to the Exchequer, as an insult to the Crown and the people, and to intimate the dismissal of the Administration upon that ground. This is meant, no doubt, for a coarse joke at the expense of Mr. Littleton, who, the Standard chooses to forget, had already a seat in the Cabinet. Whether he was even thought of as the future Chancellor of the Exchequer, we cannot say. Of the two offices, that of Secretary for Ireland, if not the higher in rank, requires not the less of those qualifications which command public confidence; and the individual who was a responsible member of the Administration in one capacity, could not have been offensive to his Majesty in the other. The Standard means only to insult and vilify Mr. Littleton : it libels in effect the King.
We return then to our first position ; that, for the dismissal of the late Administration, no other cause can be assigned than the royal determination, to get rid of them at the first opportunity. That his Majesty would choose this untoward moment, when Earl Spencer was as yet unburied, and no time had been afforded for consulting the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the subject of the requisite changes—that the train, long prepared, would have been fired at that precise moment, -was not, perhaps, looked for even by those who were privy to the court intrigue. It is certain, however, that there were omens, perceptible to certain instincts, of the coming change. The event 'cast its shadow before. From the cause we turn to the effect. Instead of criticising the resolution of the King, or discussing the limits of prerogative, let us look at the circumstances of his situation, as forcibly depicted by Mr. Bulwer, and the circumstances in which it has placed the country.
• Called to the throne in times of singular difficulty--the advisers of his predecessor, whose reign had been peaceful and brilliant, on one side—a people dissatisfied with half reforms on the other-educated to consider the House of Lords at least as worthy of deference as the popular will—disappointed at finding that one concession, however great, could not content a people who demanded it, but as the means to an end-turning to the most powerful organ of the Press, and reading that his liberal Ministers were unpopular, and that the country cared not who composed its government—seeing before him but two parties, besides the government party—the one headed by the idol of that people he began to fear, and the other by the most illustrious supporter of an order of things which in past times was the most favourable to monarchy :- I cannot deem it altogether as much a miracle as a misfortune that he should be induced to make the experiment he has risked. But I do feel indignation at those-not women, but mengrey-haired and practical politicians, who must have been aware, if not of its utter futility, of its pregnant danger; by whose assistance the King now adventures no holiday experiment.--For a poor vengeance or a worse ambition they are hazarding the monarchy itself; by playing the Knave they expose the King. For this is the danger-not (if the people be true to themselves) that the Duke of Wellington will crush liberty, but that the distrust of the Royal wisdom in the late eventsthe feeling of insecurity it produces the abrupt exercise of one man's prerogative to change the whole face of our policy, domestic, foreign, and colonial, without any assigned reason greater than the demise of old Lord Spencer—the indignation for the aristocracy, if the Duke should head it against Reform—the contempt for the aristocracy if the Duke should countermarch it to Reform--the release of all extremes of more free opinions, on the return which must take place, sooner or later, of a liberal administration ;-the danger is, lest these and similar causes should in times, when all institutions have lost the venerable moss of custom, and are regarded solely for their utility-induce a desire for stronger innovations than those merely of reform.
Nothing,” said a man who may be called the prophet of revolutions, “ destroys a monarchy while the people trust the King. But persons and things are too easily confounded, and to lose faith in the representative of an institution, forbodes the decease of the institution itself.”
Attached as I am by conviction to a monarchy for this country-an institution that I take the liberty humbly to say I have elsewhere vindicated, with more effect, perhaps, as coming from one known to embrace the cause of the people, than the more vehement declamations of slaves and courtiers—I view such a prospect with alarm. And not the less so, because Order is of more value than the Institutions which are but formed to guard it; and in the artificial and complicated affairs of this country, a struggle against monarchy would cost the tranquillity of a generation.
We are standing on a present, surrounded by fearful warnings from the past. The dismissal of a ministry too liberal for a King-too little liberal for the people, is to be found a common event in the stormiest pages of human history. It is like the parting with a common mediator, and leaves the two extremes to their own battle.'—
After adverting to the blunders of the Grey ministry, Mr. Bulwer continues :-
• But these were the faults of a past Cabinet. The Cabinet of Lord Melbourne had not been tried. There was a vast difference between the two administrations, and that difference was this --in the one the more liberal party was the minority, in the other it was the majorily. In the Cabinet of the late Premier, the weight of Sir John Hobhouse, Lord Duncannon, and the Earl of Mulgrave was added to the scale of the people. There was in the Cabinet just dissolved a majority of men whose very reputation was the popular voice, whose names were as wormwood to the Tories, and to whom it is amusing to contrast the language applied by the Tory Journals with that which greeted "in liquid lines mellifluously bland,” the luke-warm reformers they supplanted. Lord Melbourne's Cabinet had not been tried-It iš tried now—THE KING HAS DISMISSED IT IN FAVOUR OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON! His Majesty took the earliest opportunity and the faintest pretext in the royal power to prove that he thought it more liberal than the Cabinet which preceeded it.' pp. 41, 42.
· With Lord Melbourne himself, it was my lot in early youth to be brought in contact, and I still retain a lively impression of his profundity as a scholar - of his enthusiasm at generous sentiments and of that happy frame of mind he so peculiarly possesses, and of which the stuff of Statesmen is best made, at once practical and philosophical, large enough to conceive principles,-close enough to bring them to effect. Could we disentangle and remove ourselves from the present, could we fancy ourselves in a future age, it might possibly be thus that an historian would describe him :-“ Few persons could have been selected by a king, as prime minister, in those days of violent party, and of constant change, who were more fitted by nature and circumstances to act with the people, but for the King. A Politician probably less ardent than sagacious, he was exactly the man to conform to the genius of a particular time-;-- to know how far to go with prudence -where to stop with success; not vehement in temper, not inordinate in ambition, he was not likely to be hurried away by private objects, affections, or resentments. To the moment of his elevation as premier, it can scacely be said of his political life that it affords one example of imprudence. * Not to commit himself,' was at one time supposed to be his particular distinction. His philosophy was less that which deals with abstract doctrines than that which teaches how to command shifting and various circumstances. He seldom preceded his time, and never stopped short of it. Add to this, that with a searching knowledge of mankind, he may have sought to lead, but never to deceive, them. His was the high English statesmanship which had not recourse to wiles or artifice. He was one whom a king might have trusted, for he was not prone to deceive himself, and he would not deceive another. His judgment wary-his honour impregnable. Such was the minister who, if not altogether that which the people would have selected, seems precisely that which a king should have studied to preserve. He would not have led, as by a more bold and vigorous genius, Lord Durham, equally able, equally honest, with perhaps a yet deeper philosophy, a more masculine and homely knowledge of mankind, and a more prophetic vision of the spirit of the age, might have done ;- he would not have led the People to good government, but he would have marched with them side by side.'
Such I believe will be the outline of the character Lord Melbourne will bequeath to a calmer and more remote time. And this is not my belief alone. I observe that most of those independent members who had been gradually detached from the cabinet of Lord Grey, looked with hope and friendly dispositions to that of his successor. In most of the recent public meetings and public dinners where the former Cabinet was freely blamed, there was a willingness to trust the later one. And even those who would have wreaked on the government their discontent upon the Chancellor were deterred by Lord Durham's honest eulogium on the Premier. This much then we must concede to the Melbourne administration. First, it was a step beyond Lord Grey's, it embraced the preponderating, instead of the lesser, number of men, of the more vigorous and liberal policy. The fault's of Lord Grey's government are not fairly chargeable upon it. Men of the independent party hoped more from it.
Secondly, by what we know, it seems to have been in earnest as to its measures, for we know this, that the Corporation Reform was in preparation--that the Commission into the Irish Church had produced reports which were to be fairly acted upon —that a great measure of justice to Ireland was to be based upon the undeniable evidence which that commission afforded of her wrongs. We know this,--and knowing no more, we see the Cabinet dissolved, -presumption in its favour, since we have seen its successor !'
44-47 The Ķing can do no wrong. It is an admirable provision of the Constitution which secures inviolability and irresponsibility to the Crown, and throws the magic shield of the national faith round the person of the monarch. But why can the King do no wrong? Because, as king, he can do nothing but through the instrumentality of responsible advisers. Wrong may be done to the nation, and the punishment of that wrong may justly follow its committal; but the minister of the royal prerogative is in such a case the only culprit. He it is who is responsible to the people. The king is sovereign in his prerogatives. The Commons are sovereign in their prescriptive rights. They hold the national purse. It cannot be wrested from them. The king may dismiss his Cabinet, may dissolve the Legislature; but the Government cannot go on without supplies, and supplies cannot be had without a parliament, and a parliament will not vote supplies unless they have confidence in the minister. All this is as trite and familiar as the axioms of Euclid; and yet the first lessons of the Constitution are sometimes forgotten. The Tory parasites argue as if, because the royal prerogative is unquestionable and invulnerable, no responsibility attached to those who as advisers or instruments, have been accessory to a determination which involves the tranquillity and political interests of twenty-four millions of people. Under the mask of loyalty to the person of the king, they conceal treason to the State, disloyalty to the Constitution. The country has suffered wrong in the dismissal of his Majesty's ministers;
and it feels it. Murmurs loud and deep are escaping from the people of the three kingdoms. But we do not say that the king has done the country wrong; not in intention, for we believe his Majesty's intentions (if we may speak of them) to have been upright;—not in act, for the royal act would have been null and frustrate, had it not been put into effect by the parties who were eagerly watching for the signal of accomplishing their long meditated project. The king cannot have done wrong; for he is not responsible to his people for his actions; but for those actions, adopted and realised by his ministers, they, the only wrong doers of whom the Constitution takes cognizance, must be called to account. We insist upon these distinctions with earnestness, because to lose sight of them is to endanger the stability, as well as to offend against the majesty of the throne,—the throne, which is greater than he who fills it, and which, in opposition to the shallow, vulgar philosophy of the cheap-government men, we must maintain to be the key-stone of the arch upon which our constitutional liberties depend for their security.
What then is the present duty of the British people? It is, with unabated loyalty to the throne, to combine a firmness and united resistance to the monstrous and desperate effort to deliver them over again to Tory misrule and oligarchical encroachments
. The intrigues of the court must be baffled at the hustings and defeated in the senate. Let the people be true to themselves, and the Commons be true to the people, and all must come right. The interests of three kingdoms are not to be sacrificed to maintain the Irish hierarchy in its bloated wealth, nor are the Commons of England to be ruled by the horse-guards. We shall conclude these hasty observations with another eloquent extract from Mr. Bulwer's well-timed and spirited pamphlet.
•We are still that people, who have grown great, not by the extent of our possessions, not by the fertility of our soil, not by the wild ambition of our conquests ; but, by the success of our commerce, and the preservation of our liberties. The influence of England has been that of a moral power, derived not from regal or oligarchic, or aristocratic ascendancy ; but from the enterprise and character of her people. We are the great middle class of Europe. When Napoleon called us : bourgcois nation, in one sense of the word he was right. What the middle class is to us, that we are to the world!-a part of the body politic of civilization, remote alike from ochlocracy and despotism, and drawing its dignity—its power-its very breath—from its freedom. The Duke of Wellington and his band are to be in office: what to the last hour have been their foreign politics ?--wherever tyranny the grossest was to be defended—wherever liberty the most moderate was to be assailed—there have they lent their aid! The King of Holland trampling on his subjects was “our most ancient ally," whom " thing but the worst revolutionary doctrines could induce us to desert." Charles X: vainly urging his ordinances against the parliament and the