Page images
PDF
EPUB

political character, and that on account hope of support in the present House of the nature of the appointments of Commons; being perfectly prewhich have been made by her Ma. pared, on the failure of my attempt in jesty's present Government. I do not the present House of Commons to gocomplain of it: it may have been a vern, to advise her Majesty to resort wise policy to place in the chief offices to the only alternative which might of the household, ladies closely con- present itself to enable me to main. nected with the members of the Ad. tain my post. But if the agreement, ministration ; but observe that this if the understanding, upon wbich I was change does seriously tend to the to enter upon office was, that I should public embarrassment of the succes. encounter all those difficulties—that sors of Ministers, if these ladies con- the ladies of those who preceded me, tinue in their present situations. I do of those with whom I was to be in not say that there would be the slight- daily conflict, were to be in immediate est use made of unfair means; I might contact with the Queen; and, considerbe confident that these ladies would ing the political character given to the confine themselves to the duties of household, that I was to acquiesce in their proper situations ; but observe, that selection, there was something that is not the question. That remark stronger than personal considerations will apply equally to the lords of the which urged me to decline the honour bedchamber; for the presumption is, thus tendered to me. Though the that they do not interfere with public public would lose nothing by my abanduties. But the question is, would it be donment-though the public would, considered by the public that a minister perhaps, lose nothing by my eternal had the confidence of the crown when seclusion from power-yet the public the relatives of his immediate political would lose, and I should be abandonopponents held the highest offices about ing my duty to myself, to the country, the person of the sovereign? My im. and, above all, to the Queen, if I conpression decidedly was, that I should sented to hold power, permitting, as not appear in that situation to the an understanding on my acceptance of country, and upon that impression I office, that the ladies connected with acted. Who were my political oppo. my warmest political opponents should nents? Why, of the two I have named, continue to retain household offices. one, the Marquis of Normanby, was There was something that told me that publicly stated to be a candidate for I must not undertake the office of mi. the very same office which it was pro. nister of this great country on such a posed I should fill. The noble lord condition. Sir, I have attempted to has been designated as the leader of give this explanation in as fair and unthe House of Peers ; I know not why exceptionable a manner as I can; and his talents might not justify his ap. I owe it to truth to state, that interpointment in case of the retirement of vening reflection has only confirmed his predecessor. But this was the my previous impression." fact; and I ask you to go back to No man, we are convinced, whatever other times--take Pitt, or Fox, or any may be his political creed, can read the other minister-and answer for your address which we have now quoted, selves this question : sball you, enter- without the highest admiration and ing on so grave a contest-shall you sympathy for the honourable and be minister - but shall the wife of high-minded principles of conduct your political opponent hold an office which it expresses--no man, at least, which will place her in immediate in whose breast the poison of envy connexion with the sovereign ? I felt does not convert his rising admiration it was impossible that I could contend into rancorous batred. successfully with the difficulties that The speech of Sir Robert Peel is encircled me, unless I had that proof all that it ought to be: it contains a of the entire confidence of her Majesty plain statement of facts, and a clear As I stated before, I began without exposition of his feelings, leaving it the certainty of commanding a majo- ' to the minds of his audience to form rity of the House of Commons. I be their own judgment on his conduct. It gan, having only to rely upon an was not for him, in the position in appeal to their good sense, upon which he stood, to enter on an arguan appeal to their forbearance-to mentative controversy, or to lay down their political forbearance for the dogmas of government, or to admi

nister to his opponents the rebuke an object, deeply interesting to our which they might be thought to de- own hearts, and, as we firmly believe, serve, for the advice they had given essentially interwoven with the prosand the course they had pursued. But perity of our country. But not only there was a man whose position in theoretically are we enabled to transfer these transactions made it a matter of to others the legal responsibility for less delicacy to speak his mind with that result ; the actual and admitted freedom, and whose age, experience, facts of the case demonstrate that, in and estimation with the country, de- plain and practical truth, the Melmanded that his opinions should be bourne Cabinet are the parties by fully declared. The Duke of Wel whose direct advice and influence the lington, the greatest man of his time views adopted by her Majesty were and nation, and one of the greatest men either originally raised, or, at least, of any time or nation, had been a wit- ultimately insisted in. We have no ness and a party to these events in their reason to believe that, but for their inprogress, but so that no suspicion terference, the feelings of the Sovecould exist of the slightest bias in his reign would have formed any obstacle noble, and candid, and disinterested to the formation of a new ministry. mind, to warp his feelings or throw a Having thus dismissed a question doubt upon his statements. The on which we should with grief and speech of that great man on this im- reluctance have seen any inducement portant subject, is so full of that wis. to adopt a different opinion, we prodom and dignity which spring from ceed to consider the question at issue high moral principle, that we shall not in its relation, 1st, To the conduct impair its effect by mutilation, but of Sir Robert Peel ; 2d, To the conshall embody it entire at the close of duct of the Melbourne Cabinet ; 3d, this article, as a lesson of political To the prospects of the country and truth which cannot be too carefully the Conservative eause. preserved, or too frequently consulted . Of the conduct of Sir Robert by those to whom national interests Peel we most firmly believe, that in are a subject of concern. A reference every mind capable of understanding to that valuable document might al. the simplest statement of facts, of most enable us to dispense with any ob- weighing the clearest case of evidence, servations of our own on the question or of feeling the plainest principles of to which it relates. But we are anxious honesty or honour, only one opinion to discuss that question in all its bear. can by possibility be entertained. The ings, convinced that the more it is office of Prime Minister of England examined, the more manifest will be has not been sought by that eminent the conclusions to which it inevitably man through any factious course of leads.

public policy, or any insidious arts of It is impossible to contemplate the private intrigue. On a great constievents which we have above detailed, tutional question he asserted, in the without feeling that they are fraught House of Commons, the privilege of with the most important consequences, maintaining against ministers his own for good or for evil, to the future des conscientious opinion, and he prevailed tinies of the nation. We shall endea on all but a bare majority of the national vour, with as much calmness and can representatives to adopt his views. dour as we can command, to follow out The ministry thought proper to conthe reflections which they naturally sider the result of that discussion as a suggest.

decisive proof that they were not posIn the outset, it is most satisfactory sessed of the confidence of the House to think that in no degree are we even of Commons. They did more-they tempted in this case to deviate from acknowledged it as a proof that they that devotion and respect towards the were not possessed of the confidence Sovereign, which, in the most trying of the country. They avoided a recircumstances, it is the bounden duty. sort to the proper and only means of all loyal subjects, and more pre- by which the nation might be apeminently of the Conservative party, pealed to against the determination of to maintain undiminished. It is true its representatives. They resigned, that the Queen's voice has been the and their resignations were accepted : immediate instrument which has for a a proceeding which unequivocally intime prevented the accomplishment of dicated that they were unable longer to conduct the government with ad. and nothing but sad experience could vantage, either to the country or the have convinced us that a difficulty crown. It is needless to say that was possible, such as that which has every such resignation must be assum- arisen. On the one hand, no man ed to be a necessary step; and that no who could ever be supposed worthy ministry can, without folly or guilt, of the situation of minister, would resign without necessity the trust trouble his head about mere maids of which they have undertaken, more honour, or think of interfering as to particularly on a sudden notice, and mere personal friends. On the other in a critical condition of public affairs. hand,' no one of honourable feelThe demise of the Melbourne Cabinet ings, or with a sense of common debecame in this manner necessary, and cency, could dream that such persons in this manner took place; when, of as Lady Normanby or the Duchess of course, it lay with lier Majesty to en- Sutherland would either be expected trust the formation of a new cabinet to remain, or would submit to do so, to such person as she might think if they were requested. There never deserving of the confidence due to a was an instance in which the quesfirst minister. For whom did she tions that could arise as to the housesend-for whom was she advised to hold were likely a priori to create so send by Lord Melbourne himself? little dispute. One part of the case For the Duke of Wellington, the was so clear, and the other so trivial, leader of the Conservative party in that nothing but the most perverse inthe House of Lords. By that illus. genuity, or the most desperate intrigue, trious person she was advised to send could excite the slightest difference of for Sir Robert Peel, the leader of the opinion on the subject. same party in the House of Com. Take the instance of Lady Normons; and the advice so given was manby as a test of the principle : will accepted. Sir Robert Peel was sent any human being on the outer side of for and intrusted with the task ; a a lunatic asylum pretend to entertain a task at all times important, and at the doubt that Sir Robert Peel's expectation present time peculiarly arduous and of her removal was not only reasonable responsible. If Sir Robert Peel was and just, but that a permission for to accept the trust devolved upon him, her to remain under his administrait was his duty, not to his own per. tion would have been an act either of sonal feelings, but to the country the merest folly or the basest meanwhich he was to govern, to the ness? The wife of the ex-Colonial Crown which he was to serve, to Secretary, whose Jamaica scheme had make his ministry as powerful and been the occasion of the change!- the efficient as the constitution would wife of the ex-ex-Lord Lieutenant of permit him. We have seen enough Ireland, whose government had been of the mischiefs and miseries of weak. the object of an alleged attack but a ness and vacillation, to teach us that fortnight before, and was still the sub. what the country wanted was a stable ject of a searching scrutiny!- the wife and steady government; and no states- of a rival aspirant to the very office man was bound or entitled (for in this of prime minister !—this lady to seek matter right and obligation go to. or to consent to remain a real or susgether) to omit any legitimate pre- pected spy on the proceedings of a caution to ascertain and to demon- hostile administration, was scarcely strate that he was possessed of as much credible ; but if such want of delicacy, of the royal confidence, and secure of such utter degradation on her part, as much of the royal support, as would or rather, let us say in justice to her, enable him, without doubt or difficulty on the part of her husband, was a poson that head, to make a trial of his sible thing, it was an additional reaprinciples and plans.

son why it should not be suffered to Let us see, then, what arrangements, take place. Almost the same thing beyond those of the Cabinet itself, a may be said of the sisters of Lord minister in Sir Robert Peel's situa. Morpeth. The very idea of such tion would naturally contemplate. At ladies continuing about court, not first sight, it seems to have occurred as friends or visitors, but as official to all, that, in reference to the ladies persons, in privileged, and indeed of the household, every thing would compulsory attendance on the Queen's adjust itself as a matter of course, person, was utterly absurd, and essentially incompatible with the formation regnant, may become a source of weakof a ministry formed on the very dis- ness and embarrassment to the admiplacement of the political party to nistration intrusted with the governwhom those ladies were so closely al ment of the country? 2d, If so, is a lied, and by whom, be it observed, they minister entitled to expect, and entitled had been appointed to their situations. to decline office if he does not receive,

Can any man say that Sir Robert that degree of control over the housePeel was not entitled to expect that hold which will remove the sources of those ladies would cease to hold office weakness and embarrassment thence if he was to be prime minister? He arising? We believe there is no one was entitled to expect it as a test of so blind as not to see that the first of confidence; he was entitled to de- these questions must be answered in mand it as a source of strength. It the affirmative ; and if this be done, was not, perhaps, necessary that the the same must follow by necessary in. Queen should confide at all in Sir ference as to the second. We believe Robert Peel. It was not, perhaps, we might go further, and say that necessary that she should call in the every minister is responsible for the aid of the Conservative party. But whole officers that he either appoints it was impossible, if she had not been or allows to remain about the sovebadly and basely advised,that she should reign's court. We cannot entertain confide in him to the effect of making a doubt that the minister who would lim her minister, without confiding in either place or permit inproper perhim to the full extent which that charac. sons to remain about the Queen-regter reasonably required; it was im. nant, especially when that Queen is possible that she should continue to young and inexperienced, would be appeal to the Conservative party to directly responsible for his conduct. It form a government, unless she was is not necessary to argue the case here resolved to give them fair play against on that footing; but the supposition their self-displaced opponents. The brings out the principle, and ihe existcontinuance of such appointments in ence of a responsibility, in any such the household was a manifest contra- cases, implies a right of control in all. diction to the course which her Ma- Let it not be supposed that we are jesty was, by Lord Melbourne's ad. in the slightest degree disputing the vice, pursuing at the time. If Ladies power of the Queen to nominate her Normanby, Sutherland, and Burling- ministers. So far from doing so, we ton, were, at all hazards, to remain about admit it in its fullest extent, and placo court, no new minister ought to have our argument on that very basis. It been selected, to whom their continu. is perfectly in the Sovereign's power ance would be reasonably objections to give or withhold her confidence as able. If a person of Sir Robert Peel's she pleases. She may appoint to party, and in his position, was to be office whatever minister she prefers, chosen as minister, the removal of and may, if so advised, make the apthose ladies was implied as a sine qua pointment depend on the voices or non. .

views of her female attendants, or on The proposition that we have now any other criterion that is most agreebeen maintaining is so self-evident, able to her. It lies, indeed, with the peothat any direct contradiction to it has ple to say whether they will ratify the scarcely been hazarded by the minis- choice ; and between the Sovereign's terial party in the late discussion. prerogative to appoint on the one The proposition must be considered hand, and the subject's privilege to dis. on abstract principles, and as invol- approve on the other, the question will ving a general rule. It cannot be de- adjust itself in the most advantageous cided in one way for a Whig admi- and satisfactory manner. But what we nistration, and in another for a Tory contend for is this principle, that the one. It cannot be one thing at one Sovereign, if she does determine to time, and another thing at another. It appoint an individual as minister, must involves two questions, one of fact, give him all the powers which are neand another of principle, both of them, cessary for his acting without embarluckily, of very easy decision. 1st, Is rassment or disadvantage, in so far as it possible, in point of fact, that the her court is concerned. If she is to character of the female officials in at- repose confidence, she must not do it tendance on the person of a Queen, by halves, but must be prepared to follow it out to the full and legitimate 3. It is contradicted by the whole extent to which, in reason and fairness, conduct of the parties. A demand by it can be urged. If that confidence is Sir R. Peel of the nature alleged, not to be fully given, it ought not be would have been harsh and extreme, offered at all.

according to any view of the question. The truth of this principle is, in- According to the Whig view, accorddeed, so manifest to common sense, ing to the tone of all their organs and that the Whig party bave found it dependents, it would have been insultwholly impossible to confine their de- ing and despotic. If such an insulting fence to such untenable ground as its di- and despotic demand had been made, rect and downright denial. They have what would have been, what perhaps tried to rouse the country to take their ought to have been, the answer ? part upon a totally different footing- “ The proposition thus insisted in is so on the allegation that Sir Robert Peel unwarrantable and unbecoming, as to insisted that the whole ladies of the make it impossible for her Majesty to household should be removed. It is hold further communication with the true that this defence of the minis. individual who made it." But this is terial advice has been, in appearance, not done. The proposition, whatever relinquished by the ministerial lead- it was, was so far entertained as to beers, and admitted to rest on an erro- come the subject of consultation and deneous impression; but it is not yet liberation with the Cabinet; and an an. abandoned by the main body of their swer was returned by the Queen, upon underlings or followers, and it be- advice given to her, not breaking off comes necessary for us, therefore, not the negotiation, but merely adhering to accept as a concession, but to demon- to her own view, and leaving Sir Rostrate as a proved fact, that it is, and bert Peel to proceed with the task ever was, wholly false and groundless. committed to him, if he chose to do so,

The grave allegation to which we under the restraint so imposed. refer, rests exclusively on the autho. Further, if Sir Robert Peel had made rity of the Melbourne Cabinet. It is an excessive demand, but was still to contradicted or rendered incredible by be intrusted with the formation of a the following important articles of evi ministry, the proper answer to be redence:

turned to him was, not an absolute re1. It is contradicted by the express fusal of all that he was supposed to declaration of Sir Robert Peel, that have asked, but a refusal only of that he never contemplated any sweeping part of it which was inadmissible, and change in the female part of the house a concession of the remainder. It hold, or any other control over it, than should have been said :-“ You have such as might relieve him from the asked the dismissal of the whole houseembarrassment and humiliation of re- hold; that is unreasonable, and will taining about the Queen the imme- not be granted. But, if you are to be diate connexions of the ex-ministers. minister, you are entitled to the reSir R. Peel's declaration of his inten- moval of the late ministers' near retion in this respect, is confirmed by the latives ; that is reasonable, and you concurrence of every one of his poli. shall have it." This was not done; and tical friends to whom it was commu- therefore it must be held that no part nicated.

even of Sir Robert Peel's alleged de2. It is contradicted by the whole mand, or supposed demand, was deemprobabilities of the case. It is most un. ed admissible. The objection was not likely that any minister, in the infancy to the extent of the demand, but to any of bis power, and even while it was demand whatever that touched the scarcely in embryo, would run coun- female part of the household, even in ter to his sovereign's wishes, by mak- its most obviously objectionable parts. ing a demand so sweeping, so un- But, finally, the question of fact usual, and so unnecessary. It is im- now at issue, is set atrest by the written possible, indeed, that her Majesty evidence on the subject. On the one could ever have entertained an impres- hand, the letter of the Queen, though sion of that nature, unless she had worded by her advisers in vague and been induced to adopt it, both by the somewhat general terms, is a complete strongest present persuasions and the proof that Sir Robert Peel's proposal grossest previous calumnies against was not understood to go beyond the the Conservative leaders on the part ladies of the bedchamber. On the of those about her,

other hand, the letter of Sir Robert

« PreviousContinue »