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State of parties at the beginning of the year-Connection between the Ministry and the Whigs-Prosecutions for Libel-Opening of the Session of Parliament-Amendment on the Address moved in the House of Lords by Earl Stanhope-The Address moved in the Commons by Lord Darlington-Amendment moved by Sir Edward Knatchbull-Resolutions moved as an Amendment by the Marquis of Blandford-Motion of Earl Stanhope, in the House of Lords, for an Inquiry by a Committee of the whole House into the state of the nation-A similar Inquiry moved for in the House of Commons.


T the opening of the Session of parliament in the present year, the government found itself in a new and unsafe position. By an unbounded use of its power, it had carried the great party question of Catholic Emancipation; but in so doing, it had lost the confidence of a large body of its most faithful and influential adherents, who, holding themselves to have been betrayed, had been converted into determined opponents. Ministers, on the other hand, had gained the seeming support of their VOL. LXXII.

old enemies of the opposition; but the friendship was interested and luke-warm. The whigs were willing to lend the ministry such assistance as would save them from the necessity of seeking a reconciliation with the offended tories; but they were not willing that even this should be conceded, except as the means of gradually, at least, introducing themselves into an equal share of power. They assented to a coalition in parliament, but they expected, and their expectation was neither unnatural nor unrea[B]

sonable, that this should terminate in a coalition in office. They had no desire, therefore, to render the ministry independent: their policy was, to aid it with their countenance and their votes, so far as would be sufficient to keep it alive, but by no means to give it the robustness and vigour of perfect health-as the quack takes care that the infirmities of his patient shall continue, till he himself shall be received as an essential part of the family establishment. The duke of Wellington, again, was very willing to use them as supporters: without their help he could not stand a single week; but he was not disposed to receive them into an equal share of his power. He still would have preferred a reconciliation with his old friends, and every hope of that nature would have been annihilated by an official coalition with the whigs. He stood aloof, therefore, from a more intimate connection with the latter, that he might keep open the door of reconciliation with the fornier; and he flattered himself, that as each of the two divisions of his adversaries would be unwilling to drive him, for the preservation of his ministry, into the arms of the other, he might command the occasional assistance of both to an extent sufficient to enable him to govern without placing himself in the power of either. The tories, however, who had been disgusted by the conduct of ministers regarding the Catholic bill, shewed no inelination again to trust the men who had once betrayed them. They resisted Wellington, Peel, and their colleagues, not only as statesmen who had abused their power, and coalesced with their political antagonists, to force upon the

country a measure contrary to its opinions, its interests, and its institutions, but as politicians who, to effect that purpose, had abandoned their tenets, betrayed and surprised their own confiding adherents, and introduced as a principle into the conduct of government, that every thing was to be granted, which was demanded by any portion of the community, with a sufficient quantity of clamour and threat. Between them and the whigs, the distance now was at least not greater than between them and the ministry; and the whigs had the whigs had never betrayed them; and the unblushing disregard of the public voice of England and Scotland, which had been manifested in carrying through the Catholic bill, had made, even among the opponents of that bill, converts to the question of Parliamentary Reform-almost the only distinguishing legend that now remained visible on the banners of whiggery. His grace of Wellington, however, although he had himself carried one public measure only by an open coalition with his political adversaries, and a wreckless use of the power which that coalition gave him, seemed to reckon it not within the range of probability, that a similar coalition between these adversaries and his former friends might be formed to carry another public measure, viz. his expulsion from power. His own conduct had at once furnished the motive to such an union, and removed one irreconcileable point of difference between the parties whose union he had to fear. The party, of which Mr. Canning had been the leader, and which, after his death, had acknowledged Mr. Huskisson as its head, would have supplied him both with influence

and with talent; but the expulsion of Mr. Huskisson from the cabinet had been too ignominious to leave any hope of his return, unless the duke should stoop to make submissions which neither his situaation nor the obstinacy of his character seemed to allow.

Considered in itself, too, the ministry was altogether without the means of making any commanding figure in the house of Commons. With the exception of Mr. Secretary Peel, who tried to fill the post of leader in that House, there was no man fitted to fight their battles in debate with any tolerable degree of talent and vigour no one that held any high place in public opinion, either for oratory or information. Every disposition was shewn, therefore, to form such an alliance with the whigs, as might, on all occasions, moderate their opposition, and on some, might bring over their voices to the side of ministers. The marquis of Cleveland, a great boroughproprietor of that party, under whose patronage Mr. Brougham had long sat, lent them his aid, and his son, lord Darlington, undertook to move the address. The duke of Devonshire was another influential personage on the same side; and Mr. James Abercromby long sat for one of his boroughs. The office of Chief Baron of the Court of Exchequer in Scotland having become vacant, by the resignation of sir Samuel Shephard, Mr. Abercromby, who had been once a member of the English Chancery Bar, but had never been in any considerable practice, and had for some years quitted his profession, was promoted to the empty seat. In the usual course of official preferment, this office should have been bestowed on

the Lord Advocate of Scotland; but that course was violated, and all other claims were disregarded, because it was desirable to conciliate the duke of Devonshire. The security, however, thus obtained was imperfect and unstable; there was no amalgamation of the parties; it seemed rather to be matter of individual arrangement. The great body of the opposition were willing to try whether they could make the minister so sensible of his dependence, as to compel him to admit them; but they were not prepared to be duped by his crude scheme of governing by dividing, or to weaken the peculiar sources of their noisy influence by sharing, as a party, the unpopularity of his measures.

While the Catholic bill was pending, the press had given birth to much vehement and angry discussion. The boldest among the opponentsof the measure was a paper called the Morning Journal, edited by a Mr.Alexander, and conducted, however it might transgress the bounds of even allowable invective, with very considerable talent. The part which ministers had taken in regard to emancipation laid them most peculiarly open to attack, and the Morning Journal assailed them without mercy. The consequence was, that sir James Scarlett, the Attorney-general, resolved to crush the paper by ex officio informations. No fewer than three informations were filed, besides an indictment which was preferred by the duke of Wellington. The first application of Mr. Attorney was for an information at the instance of the Lord Chancellor Lyndhurst, on account of an article which was alleged to mean, although he was not pointed out in it by name, title, or rank, that he had procured the

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