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betwixt the Elections and his fall, however, it began to appear as if his Lordship's policy in home affairs consisted simply in doing nothing; while, at the same time, the circumstances immediately preceding his fall went far to disenchant his supporters as to his Lordship's supreme regard for the dignity of his country. For ourselves, we do not consider his conduct in regard to the Conspiracy Bill as an intentional desertion of the national honour, but rather as a fatal error induced by previous omissions of duty, and which he ventured to adopt in consequence of a too great confidence in his dictatorial power in the House.
The fall of their distinguished leader from office has loosened the tie which held together the great but heterogeneous Palmerston party. It is one thing to rally round such a man when at the helm of affairs; it is another to adhere to him out of office, and when there are no longer pending any questions for the conduct of which he is specially suited. For half a century of his political life, Lord Palmerston had no following; all at once, when needed, a great party gathered round him; and now again it has begun to dissolve. Lord Palmerston has played too distinguished a part, when Premier, ever to relapse into his old condition of a statesman without a following. But the Palmerston party, as created by the elections of 1857, is already a thing of the past. Its Conservative members have naturally rallied round Lord Derby, and a considerable number of its Liberal members will return to their old allegiance under Lord John Russell. And thus the great Coalition Party of 1855-57 has come to an end, even as the great Coalition Cabinet of 1853-4 did. Had the fall of the Palmerston Ministry been accomplished by the Conservatives, the result would have gone far to consolidate the various sections of the Liberal party. But the chief agent in his fall was Lord John Russell, who signalised his opposition by voting against the very first reading of the Conspiracy Bill,-whereas the Conservatives, anxious to avoid even the semblance of faction on so delicate and important a question,
by their votes gave leave to the Government to introduce the Bill. It was also notorious that, throughout the whole course of Lord Palmerston's Administration, Lord John Russell has been ever ready to play the part of mischief-maker. The result has been to widen the breach previously existing between these two chiefs of the Liberal party, and to exasperate in no ordinary degree the Palmerstonians against Lord John Russell. Lord John will never rest so long as Lord Palmerston is above him, while the Irish Viscount will certainly not submit tamely to be displaced from his post of honour. It is at present almost a drawn race between them, and, considering the advanced years of both, the next heat must decide. At present Lord Palmerston holds the vantage. It is six years since that noble Lord asserted his independence, and took up the running" against Lord John, and during the last three years he has completely distanced his rival. Lord John, in fact, has of late years been "nowhere." It was only after an unparalleledly long career in office that Henry Temple rose into notice, and ultimately won the Premiership,— from which, after a reign almost dictatorial, he has just fallen. The "scion of the house of Bedford," on the other hand, emerged suddenly into an amazing popularity, and reached the highest honours earlier than his present rival; but for a good many years his reputation has been steadily sinking. Whatever scintillation of success may yet possibly be in store for Lord John Russell, it is evident that his star has long passed the zenith. Sir Robert Peel latterly eclipsed him even in the estimation of the multitude, and, though not in the Ministry, was more regarded than the Minister himself. Sir Robert's premature death alone saved Lord John from a coup de grace at his hand; but no sooner had the great Conservative chief passed from the scene, than Lord Palmerston began to make his influence felt, and, first rebelling against Lord John's views of foreign affairs, finally upset his Cabinet on the Militia question. On the installation of the Coalition Ca
binet, Lord John was forced to be come "the subordinate of a subordinate;" and though he temporarily rose to be simply a subordinate, it was only to fall out of office altogether. In truth, for several years past, the old chief of Reform has found himself very much in the shade. Supplanted in office by the Conservatives in 1852 -afterwards appropriated by, and figuring insignificantly in, the illstarred Cabinet of Lord Aberdeennext failing at Vienna, and compelled to relinquish in unusual humiliation his shadowy position in Lord Palmerston's Government the once famous "scion of the house of Bedford" has for the last three years found himself entirely out of office, even though his own party be in power almost without a following of his and beholding the Liberal party and press rallying in support of a statesman, now his successful rival, but formerly a subordinate, whom he ejected from office. Such are the ups and downs of political life. But the last quality that will be quenched in Lord John Russell is his ambition. To end as he is out of office, without popularity, and without a party-having, so far at least as externals go, lost all that political good fortune once so richly showered upon him, would be a deep humiliation. It is the last chapter of a man's life that stamps the reputation of the whole. Posterity generally judges by the last scene. If it be a failure, then the inference is not unnatural that former success was but superficial-due more to fortunate circumstances than to the native ability of the man. Lord John Russel does not wish to be so thought of. It will not be for want of bold effort on his part if he end his career in his present fallen state. Dum vita est spes. Parliamentary Reform-the question which first raised his Lordship to popularity and power-is again about to be the question of the day; and very probably he looks forward to it as a means of retrieving his fallen reputation, and of enabling him to close his career in a position worthy of his early fortunes. It is natural that he should endeavour to revive his faded honours by means of the question which formerly made
him master of the position. Nevertheless it is a truth-not much remarked, perhaps, but sufficiently patent in its operation-that the same thing, done in the same way, but at a different time, almost never produces the same effect; and that he who tries to revive his popularity by simply copying the conduct which first gave it to him many years before, places his confidence in a broken reed. The traditions of 1832 are quite out of place in 1858; and when the real tug of war does come on the Reform question, we think that the palm of victory will rest with younger men, unblinded by Whig traditions, and who, looking frankly at the facts of the question, resolve to deal with it in a comprehensive manner, and in a perfect spirit of fair play to all classes and interests of the community.
So stand the divided forces of the Liberals. The Russellites look upon Palmerston as something very like a charlatan and traitor; and the Palmerstonians regard Lord John as a mischievous meddler and demagogic intriguer. Lord Palmerston's party is that which is least removed from the Conservatives, so far as political principle is concerned; while Lord John Russell is every session drawing nearer to the Radicals, and perhaps hopes to appear once more as Premier, supported by Sir James Graham and Mr Cobden. The great motive on his Lordship's part for this divergence towards revolutionary democracy is the fact that he has nothing to gain in the other direction, owing to the ground being already occupied by Lord Palmerston. The greater part of the "old Whigs "-who form the most respectable and cautious, but, at the same time, most cliquish section of the Liberal party-adhere to Lord Palmerston; and hence Lord John Russell can best look for recruits on the other side, by bidding for the support of the Manchester party, so far as he can do so without entirely alienating the support of the Whigs. The Manchester party, however, are decidedly in a coy mood. The schism between the Russellites and Palmerstonians has raised this section of the House into importance, and they will not give their alliance without exact
ing its full value. They are in a position to trade upon the exigencies of the two other sections of the Liberal party, especially of the Russellites, who are more likely to acquiesce in their terms. They see in the present dilemma an opportunity of bending one or both of the other Liberal sections to their views; and, till this take place, will help to place neither in power. The Manchester party hate Lord Palmerston above any man in the House, and will be especially loth to support any move made by the ex-Premier to replace himself in power. With an opposition so divided, and public feeling comparatively neutral, there is every prospect of the Conservative Government obtaining a fair trial. The country at present cares little whether the Ministry be Whig or Tory. What it especially desiderates is, that the Ministry be able and energetic in their work; and as the new Cabinet contains immeasurably more ability of every kind than its predecessor, we have no fear that the public will be disappointed by the fruit of their labours.
It will be allowed that the new Cabinet have made a good commencement. They succeeded to office at a time when the temper of the House was exceedingly irritable, and disposed to be unusually exacting. The new Ministers have met this mood with most perfect frankness. Diplomatic documents have been ordered to be printed for the information of the House, and explanations have been made and answers given on all subjects, in a manner which contrasts favourably with the dictatorial spirit of the late Premier, who never gave any explanations which he could withhold, and who rejoiced to snub and "put down" all troublesome interrogators of ministerial policy. And conjoined with this frankness and courtesy to the House, the measures of the new Cabinet in those delicate foreign questions which at present engage so much attention, have been so active and so judicious, that each new reply by Ministers has tended to increase the satisfaction of the House, from the proofs thereby afforded of the singular success which is attending their efforts. In fact,
they have cut the ground from under Lord Palmerston in the very quarter where his reputation stood strongest. Alike in the Refugee question, the case of the "Cagliari," and the Passport system, the new Ministry have won very marked triumphs over their predecessors-and that almost instantaneously. Indeed, judging before the event, we should have held that so much success, within so short a time, was impossible; and that so great a change for the better has been already accomplished in each and all of those questions since the fall of Lord Palmerston, is a notable proof of the rare diligence as well as judgment with which the new Ministry have commenced their career. The country will soon be convinced that the Conservative statesmen are bent on doing their work energetically, thoroughly, and well; and that, besides more weighty and ambitious measures, numerous improvements will at the same time be effected in less prominent departments of the public service, which the Liberal Ministers were contented to leave unreformed. Although the pressing questions of the refugees, the "Cagliari," and the passport system, might have sufficed to absorb the attention of a Ministry newly installed, Lord Derby's Government have already proceeded to investigate the condition of the Consular service--a most important branch of our foreign administration, from which hitherto the country has not derived proper value.
We have said that the new Administration will not make the fact of one of its departments being very busy an excuse for all the others standing still. And although foreign politics are still complicated by several questions requiring delicate handling, and more nearly affecting vital interests than may be commonly supposed, --though the India Bill makes another large demand upon the attention of the Government,and though the Budget, which the new Ministers will not take secondhand, has all to be revised and recast-nevertheless, we believe that the wide field of Law Reform will immediately be entered upon, and with most satisfactory results to the
community. The Transfer of Land -the Bankruptcy Laws and some other portions of our legal system, will be comprehensively dealt with, with the view of improving the law, and lessening the extortionate expense with which such legal processes are at present attended. Lord Chelmsford in the Lords, and Sir Fitzroy Kelly in the Commons, are guarantees that this important work will be ably done; and we are convinced that the Lord Advocate for Scotland, whose pre-eminent legal abilities are acknowledged by all parties in his own country, will prove a worthy compeer for these English lawyers in the comprehensive reforms which they have so much at heart. That veteran and distinguished law-reformer, Lord St Leonards, though not in the Cabinet, will continue his important task of remodelling the defective parts of the Statutebook, and his measures will receive every support from the Government. Lastly comes the great question of Parliamentary Reform. It could not be expected that the new Cabinet should legislate on the subject this session. Indeed it was reckoned extremely doubtful by many even of the Liberals, if the late Premier would not have evaded the question for another year. But as sure as next year comes round, if the Conservatives are then in office, a Reform Bill will be introduced, and proceeded with in earnest. It will not be, like Lord John's bills, a mere toy or decoy to keep dangling before the eyes of the public; it will not be, like his, a measure introduced only to be withdrawn and re-withdrawn. It will be got up in a business-like way, and will be proceeded with in an earnest and businesslike manner. Since Parliament has again and again declared that a new Reform Bill ought to be introduced, the country will find that the Conservatives are not the worst hands to which the task can be intrusted. On this subject we need to make no recantation of opinion. What we say in 1858, with our party in office, we said in 1856
when the Conservatives were in opposition. "The maxim of Conservatism," as we then said, "is not that changes shall not be made at all, but that they shall not be made prematurely... A Conservative's principles do not debar him from putting forth his hand to modify at times the governmental fabric. On the contrary, Pitt was the first to conceive the project of Parliamentary Reform, at a time when the Whig oligarchs had no relish for the change; and it was only when they found themselves wholly excluded from office that the descendants of the latter, as a means of regaining public fa vour, took up the project which the outburst of the revolutionary war had caused the great Conservative statesman to postpone. We think the Conservatives erred in 1830, in resisting all Reform; for by so doing they left the country no choice between adopting the crude measures of the Liberals, or declaring that it wished no reform at all. Assuredly Pitt would not have so acted."* And assuredly the Conservatives, if they remain in office, will not so act
On other points also we have simply to repeat the programme of Conservative policy which we formerly gave: A Conservative may advocate education as well as a Liberal; indeed, Sir John Pakington is now facile princeps in this difficult but important department of statesmanship. A Conservative may advocate legal reform as well as a Liberal, and has done it better. He may support the Protestant character of our institutions as well as a Liberal, and for a long time past has done it better. may advocate commercial reform, and did so earlier and better than the Liberals. Indeed, what names are to be found among the Liberal Ministers that will match as commercial reformers with those of Pitt, Huskisson, and Peel ? In these various departments of legislation, the Conservative walks as boldly on, and has distinguished himself fully more than his Liberal rivals."+
We have no doubt that the great
"The Political Lull," Dec. 1856, p. 744-5. VOL. LXXXIII.-NO. DX.
+ Ibid. p. 744.
desire of the Opposition leaders is to get the new Ministry turned out as fast as possible. The ex-Ministerial chiefs, whether of the Palmerston or Russell sect, will be bent upon nipping in the bud the development of their rivals' policy, from a well-founded dread lest the number, comprehensiveness, and ability of the measures of the new Cabinet should quite eclipse the feeble and all but barren sessions of the recent Liberal régime. This was the tactics of the Opposition in 1852, and there is much greater motive for them to repeat these tactics now. But can they? We do not believe it. We do not apprehend that the ex-Ministerial chiefs will obtain sufficient support from the House to enable them to carry out such factious designs. The Conservatives succeeded to office
simply by the failure of their rivals, and after a career in Opposition more free from factious courses than any five sessions of Parliament that the present generation has witnessed. Lord Derby has formed his Ministry entirely on the principle of securing the most efficient men; and in point of talent and administrative skill it may challenge comparison with the very best of its predecessors. members are in earnest, fully competent for their work, and bent upon accomplishing it. They will accomplish it, if the House give them the opportunity. Difficulties of no ordinary kind they certainly have to encounter; but we confidently believe they will triumph over them, and that the House will support them with that "constitutional" majority to which they are so amply entitled.
Printed by William Blackwood & Sons, Edinburgh.