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mon sense under foot; and there are few more striking instances of the egregious absurdities into which the blindness and selfishness of mere party spirit will run, than the abuse, which on this occasion, was heaped upon the seceding ministers. Mr. Canning was represented as the intended victim of an ungenerous and unconstitutional cabal. The resigning ministers, it was said, had hoped to force the king into their own views, by leaving him helpless in consequence of their concerted resignations: that such a plot was an attack on the royal prerogative, which gave the king the uncontrolled nomination of his ministers; that the cause, therefore, of Mr. Canning was identified with the cause of the constitution, and any disinclination to serve under him, by the sacrifice of a man's own principles, was held out as unanswerable proof that such a man was destitute of all soundness of understanding, and of all moral and political virtue. No small quantity of such trash was subsequently uttered even in the House of Commons; and Mr. Canning himself acted unworthily, when he represented the conduct of his opponents as betraying a suspicious and extraordinary coincidence, while he was compelled to allow that, individually, they had all acted like men of honour. Assuredly, Mr. Canning, and the friends of Mr. Canning, who refused to give the public the use of their services, unless a person of their own way of thinking on the Catholic question were put at the head of the government, were the very last men who could be entitled to represent the appointment of a Catholic premier as a matter of too little moment to justis
fy the retirement of the anti-catholic members of the cabinet. Their leader himself was prepared and determined to retire in the event of the appointment of an anti-catholic premier. Yet the latter event would have left the state of the ministry as to that question, precisely what it had been; while the former introduced a vital change in regard to that question, by transferring to the friends of the Catholics all the influence to be derived from one of their number being the minister of the country. In some instances, no doubt, personal considerations, arising from want of confidence in Mr. Canning, seem to have been added to the general ground of principle; but that general ground was sufficient to account for all that happened; and men who voluntarily retire from the enjoyment of power which they are even entreated to retain, are entitled to some credit for sincerity of motive. Some of the retiring statesmen, indeed, lord Melville, for instance, and the marquis of Londonderry, held the same opinions on the Catholic question with Mr. Canning; but their retirement came later: it did not take place till the cabinet had been abandoned by a large proportion of those who gave it real weight and efficiency; and there was nothing inconsistent with any rule of upright public conduct, in refusing to adhere to a ministry in which such a blank had been created, and in which the filling up of that void must produce so radical a change. The charge of caballing to restrain the king in the constitutional exercise of his prerogative, and ungratefully flying in his face, because, in the exercise of that prerogative, he had placed a fellow-servant over their heads, was mere absurdity,
To select his ministers is the undoubted prerogative of the king; but it never was the prerogative of the Crown to compel a subject to fill a public office whether he would or not, and still less to compel him to fill it under the control of those in whom that subject reposes little official confidence, and from whom he differs in matters of public policy. On what principle could the king have said to Mr. Peel, "I charge you on your allegiance to serve under Mr.Canning," on which he might not at any time say to the House of Commons, "I charge you on your allegiance to vote the supplies, however you may distrust, and differ from my ministers." The supposition that the resignations of these ministers were the result of a preconcerted plan, because they happened to be almost simultaneous, was more absolutely ridiculous than any other. They could not formally decline to become part of a ministry with a Catholic head, until they were formally told that such a ministry was to be framed, and were requested to join it. Mr. Canning did not tell them this till the 10th of April; and even then he did not say explicitly that he was himself to be at the head of the government: their replies necessarily reached him in the course of the 11th and 12th. When Mr. Canning's adherents, therefore, enlarged upon this simultaneousness as proving a preconcerted scheme, and when Mr. Canning himself described it as an extraordinary coincidence, he and they just asserted this, that men were guilty of conspiracy be cause they answered letters of importance so soon as they received them. The uncontradicted declarations of the parties themselves in parliament make it impossible to
believe in the existence of any such scheme. With whatever difficulties Mr. Canning might find himself now surrounded by whatever intrigues he might already have fore-armed, or might now endeavour to arm, himself against them
he could not justly say, that any one intrigue had been attempted against him.
It was fortunate for the new minister, that the recess of parlia ment left him leisure to look about for substitutes for the colleagues who had quitted him. He was not allowed to seek them all among his own friends: the Catholic question was still not to be made a cabinet question; the king had declared, at the very moment when he made Mr. Canning minister, that he himself was resolved to oppose any further concessions to the Papists. In this point of view, the nomination of a successor to lord Eldon was the most important feature in the new arrangements. Sir John Copley, the Master of the Rolls, whose speech against the Catholics in the late debate in the House of Commons had led to an almost personal altercation between him and Mr. Canning, was created lord Lyndhurst, and raised to the office of lord High Chancellor, his place in the Rolls court being supplied by the vice-chancellor, sir John Leach, and the vice-chancellor being succeeded by Mr. Hart. Mr. Sturges Bourne, and lord Dudley and Ward, both personal friends of the premier, were called to take the seals, the former of the Home, and the latter of the Foreign, department; the duke of Portland, a brother-inlaw of Mr. Canning's wife, became lord Privy-Seal; Mr. Robinson, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was called up to the House of
represent him as inclined to go equally far with themselves in the application of these principles, if he were not trammelled, as they supposed him to be (though he affirmed the contrary), by his less daring colleagues. These colleagues he had now thrown off, and thus paved the way to a junction with the party whose support was become essential to his ministerial existence, and which was not inclined to let slip this opportunity of plac ing itself in some share of authority. It is true there remained many weighty questions, on which it seemed impossible for the coalescing parties to agree, unless one of them should sacrifice, for the enjoy
Peers, by the title of lord Goderich,
But though offices were thus filled, no positive addition was made to the strength of the new ministry. This was sought and attained by a coalition with the Whigs, and some of the Radicals. It has already been mentioned, that the Whigs had for some time considered, or affected to consider, Mr. Canning as being, in a great measure, a member of their own body. Their sentiments, they said, coincided with his own principles, in kind, at least, in so far as foreign policy and commercial regulation were concerned, and they used to
ciples. Year after year the Whigs had pressed the necessity of parliamentary reform, describing it as a measure which was not merely expedient, but altogether essential to the safety of the country: Mr. Canning, on the other hand, was the bitter and irreconcileable enemy of this alleged reform in all its shapes, Religious freedom was a watch-word of the opposition, and the Test-act was in their judg ment an intolerant burthen upon liberty of conscience; but that very act was one, to the repeal of which, Mr. Canning declared, he would never be brought to consent. To the opposition, any thing bearing the appearance of a restraint upon the press was an abomination which they could not tolerate, and all the vials of their wrath had been poured out against the ministers, who, in 1820, had imposed some check upon periodical publications. Of these ministers, Mr. Canning has not been least exposed to their obloquy, and these checks still existed. Were the Whigs to become enemies of reform, of toleration,
and of the press, or was Mr. Canning to become the reformer, the corporator, the "chartered libertine?"
During the remaining part of the session, some of these questions were propounded, and the issue shewed, that those newly enlisted on the side of the government were not disposed to endanger its stability, now that they formed part of it, by pressing their own views on the notice of parliament. But, unless there was a total sacrifice of principle on one side or the other, it was evident that the admission of the opposition to the cabinet would multiply all the evils of a divided government. Catholic emancipation was the only topic on which the members of the former cabinet had openly differed: the new cabinet was formed expressly on the principle that that difference should continue; and to it would be added, by an admixture of Whig members, all those other topics, which, for twenty years had furnished them with themes of invective, and sometimes of personal abuse against their new master, and the party to which he belonged. At bottom, however, their support of him rested on a very plain principle. If they differed from Mr. Canning in these points, so did they likewise differ from his colleagues who had resigned, while they were further separated from the latter on the question of Catholic emancipation.
They had thus one point of dissension less with the former than with the latter, and in a contest for power between the two parties, it was their interest to support that which approached nearest to their own. A negotiation was opened with lord Lansdowne, through lord Carlisle, who being connected by birth and marriage with the leading members of the Whig aristocracy, and by long habits of friendly intercourse with Mr. Canning, was in those respects, no less than by the moderation and respectability of his character, fitted to perform the office of a mediator. For some time, however, the Whigs exhibited a feigned, or a real reluctance, to take office. Whether it was that Mr. Canning, foreseeing the danger of such allies becoming masters, was reserved in his pro posals, and not sufficiently liberal in his offers-or that the Whigs were unwilling to commit themselves, till the probable stability of the new minister had been put to some test, the negotiations did not lead to the immediate introduction of any of them into the cabinet. They agreed, however, to give Mr. Canning their support: and, as a pledge and symbol of their coalition, offices of considerable emolument, though of little direct political influence, were conferred on some of their adherents. Mr. Scarlett was knighted, and named Attorney-general.
Meeting of Parliament after the Recess-Mr. Peel explains in the
THEN the parliament re-assembled on the 1st of May,* the public eagerness was at its height to learn something of the causes, which had separated men
who so long had acted together in good and in evil report, and which had accomplished an union between parties and individuals whose contest had generally been
• When parliament met, after the recess, the new ministry was as follows:--
the E. of Westmoreland.
Lord Chancellor .......................
Sec. of State for the Home Department..Rt. Hon. W. S. Bourne..
First Lord of the Treasury and Chan-
Rt. Hon. G. Canning....
Lord High Admiral ......................
Duke of Clarence ....S