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the Protestants were, so to speak, the civil garrison of Ireland, and the Government was bound to that extent to stand by them.
After a few words from the Bishop of Killaloe in vindication of the Established Church, the Bill for suspending the Habeas Corpus was read a second time, and shortly afterwards became law.
The work of the Session had not proceeded far before an important change was announced in the personnel of the Administration. The Prime Minister had been prevented by a serious attack of illness from taking his place in the House of Peers at the meeting of Parliament, and the reports which soon after became current of the aggravation of his malady prepared the public mind for the event which followed. On the 26th of February it was announced in both Houses that Lord Derby had felt himself obliged, by the failure of his health, to offer his resignation to the Queen, that it had been accepted by Her Majesty, and that Mr. Disraeli, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had become the head of the Administration. This announcement was made by the Earl of Malmesbury in brief terms, but with expressions of great sorrow and reluctance on the part of his colleagues in yielding to the inevitable necessity. They must hope, said the noble lord, that the rest which the retiring Premier would be enabled to take when out of office would restore him to them in renewed strength, so that they might once more have the advantage of his experience and enjoy the charm of his eloquence. It will be seen that this anticipation was happily realized at a later period of the Session.
Earl Russell warmly expressed his sympathy with the Government on the loss they had sustained. Often as he and his friends on that side of the House had differed, and might now differ on public questions, they could never fail to entertain for Lord Derby those sentiments of regard and esteem which his great qualities were calculated to inspire.
A similar announcement was on the same evening made to the House of Commons, and it was a singular circumstance that in the absence of Mr. Disraeli, whose seat had been vacated by the acceptance of his new office, it fell to Lord Stanley, as the organ of the Government, to communicate the fact of his father's retirement from the Ministry. In few words the noble lord discharged his task, and moved an adjournment of the House for a few days in order to give time for the completion of the Ministerial arrangements.
Mr. Gladstone, after remarking on the singular destiny which had given it to Lord Stanley to make this announcement, expressed the general regret that a career so long, so active, and in many respects so distinguished, should have been brought to a close by bodily illness. He agreed that the adjournment proposed was most appropriate under the circumstances.
The changes in the composition of the Government which followed upon Lord Derby's retirement were as follows :-Mr. Disraeli vacated the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which he was succeeded by Mr. Ward Hunt; Lord Cairns, previously one of the Lords Justices of the Court of Chancery, became Lord Chancellor in the room of Lord Chelmsford; Mr. Walpole resigned the seat in the Cabinet of which he had previously been a member without office; Mr. Sclater-Booth became Financial Secretary to the Treasury in the place of Mr. Ward Hunt, being himself succeeded in the Secretaryship to the Poor Law Board by Sir Michael Hicks Beech. The change thus effected in the composition of the ministry did not carry with it any alteration in the measures or policy of the executive; indeed it was generally understood, before Lord Derby's retirement, that the predominant influence in the Cabinet was that of Mr. Disraeli, and after that event it was equally assumed that so long as the late Premier was able to take part in public affairs his former colleagues would enjoy the benefit of his counsel and co-operation. An occasion was speedily taken by the new Prime Minister of communicating to the supporters of the Government in the House of Commons the views and intentions by which its conduct would in future be governed. A meeting of Conservative members was summoned by circular to the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury in Downing-street. About 170 noblemen and gentlemen attended, and all the members of the Cabinet, Lord Stanley alone excepted, were present.
Mr. Disraeli opened his address with an expression of regret for the cause of Lord Derby's resignation of the helm of public affairs; but he added a cheering assurance that the Government would still have the benefit of the noble earl's advice. The right hon. gen- . tleman paid a high tribute to the abilities of the chief who had preceded him, and to the services his lordship had rendered to the country. Mr. Disraeli also spoke feelingly of the personal kindness which he had always received at Lord Derby's hands. ceeding to the post of principal adviser of the Queen, it was most consolatory to himself, and it would be, he knew most satisfactory to those who heard him, that he should still be helped by the wisdom and experience of the noble earl who, he ventured to hope, would soon resume his place in the House of Lords. With respect to the future, Mr. Disraeli observed, the Conservative party must bear in mind that it was in a minority, and that there were difficult and important questions before the country which forbade the expectation of smooth sailing. The right hon. gentleman then referred to some of the leading questions of the day, including the Scotch and Irish Reform Bills and the general state of Ireland. With respect to the subject of Reform, he believed that by the forbearance of parties the Government would be able successfully to carry the Scotch and Irish bills. On the special question of Ireland, and on the points of the Church and land grievances, Mr. Disraeli spoke with caution. Confessing the difficulties in the way of legislation, he said that the Government wished to treat Ireland in a liberal spirit. Without committing himself to any definite policy, he was under
stood to say that the Earl of Mayo would, in his answer to the motion then impending of Mr. Maguire, make a statement which would, no doubt, be satisfactory to the party, and, he hoped, to the country. Mr. Disraeli, in conclusion, thanked the gentlemen present for the kindness with which they had received him, and expressed a belief that, in the unity of their party, the Conservatives had nothing to fear. He begged to assure them, on his own part, that the Government would, as far as possible, treat on Conservative principles the questions that must still arise. One of those to which he referred was the distribution of seats. The Premier's address was very favourably received by the meeting.
On the two Houses re-assembling after the adjournment, a statement was made by the chief organ of the Government in each as to the course by which its future policy would be guided. Addressing the House of Lords on the 5th of March, the Earl of Valmesbury informed them that the formation of the Ministry under its new head was then completed. Two changes only had taken place in the Cabinet. The policy of the Ministry would be the same as that of Lord Derby. The present Session would no doubt be an important one as regarded the measures which would have to be brought forward. The work of Reform would have to be perfected by the introduction of measures for Scotland and Ireland, and a Bill would be introduced for the extension of popular education. An earnest attempt would also be made to remedy the evils which existed in Ireland.
Earl Russell said, “ There can be no objection to the new arrangements as to their formal character. It has not been unusual for the leader of the House of Commons to succeed a Prime Minister who has died or retired from office. But, looking to the formation of the new Ministry, I cannot help making that protest which I have made on former occasions as to Lord Derby's Ministry, that I think no confidence cau be placed in a Government which openly professes to say one thing and to mean another. That Government was carried on for three years on that principle. Having declared that there should be no reduction in the franchise, yet all the time it was their intention to make a larger reduction than was proposed by their opponents. The consequence has been a course of deception-a course which might be called by another name, which must prevent any reliance being placed on a Government which openly avows that they do not mean what they say."
The Duke of Marlborough was at a loss to understand the meaning of the noble lord. The true state of the case was that the subject of Reform occupied the attention of the Earl of Derby's Cabinet immediately they met. And whatever opinions its members previously held, there could be no doubt that when they decided to propose a measure of Parliamentary Reform they made that proposition in a frank and straightforward manner, and in one entirely consistent with the spirit of the constitution.
Earl Russell said that if the noble duke desired to have his
meaning he would tell him. He had called the course pursued by the Government of Lord Derby one of deception--the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his speech at Edinburgh, called it one of “education”—because for seven years the fears of the country had been excited against a reduction of the franchise, against which Mr. Disraeli not only protested in the House of Commons, but congratulated the electors of Buckinghamshire that no such reduction had taken place; and yet during all that time he had, according to his own account, been educating bis party to bring about a greater reduction, or, as he then called it, “ degradation, of the franchise than his opponents proposed. It was by those means that many gentlemen were induced to desert their own colours and go over to the Conservative party, believing that there would be no reduction of the franchise. It was by these profes
. sions that the Earl of Carnarvon, Lord Cranborne, and General Peel were induced to join Lord Derby's Cabinet, believing that no such measures would be introduced as were in fact proposed. There was no example in the history of party of such a deception or such an education having taken place. It was a course of conduct that not only men like Charles Fox, Earl Grey, or Lord Althorp would have scorned to adopt, but which would have been equally scorned by Pitt, Lord Liverpool, and the Duke of Wellington. It was a plan and system of Government which destroyed all trust and reliance in public men, because the faith which the Government had pledged one day might be disavowed on the morrow.
On the same evening Mr. Disraeli made a more expanded statement in the House of Commons as to the course which his Administration intended to pursue. He said, “I beg the House to allow me to make a few remarks on the change which has taken place in my relations to this House since I last had the honour to address it. The retirement of Lord Derby was unexpected. I have no language which can describe my sense of his loss, and I will not attempt to dilate upon the career or character of Lord Derby. I think it unnecessary to touch upon his services. It is our pride and boast that he has lived amongst us, and I am happy to be surrounded by many who have a personal recollection of that brilliant perception and that fiery eloquence which he possessed in a greater degree than most men that I have known. Her Majesty has been pleased, on the retirement of Lord Derby, to command me to form a Government. Under any circumstances, I think, there is no one who, when such a trust was pressed upon him, would not feel that in accepting it he must incur a great burden and encounter great difficulties. But I knew that in my position there were personal and peculiar reasons which would aggravate the burden, and which would augment those difficulties. Yet I did not think that I could with self-respect refuse an offer of such a character, and I trusted to be supported by the sympathy of a generous party. And I may be permitted to say that I trusted to receiving fair and impartial treatment from a House of Parliament in which I have now passed half of my existence. Under these circumstances, I have presumed to undertake the office, and I am bound in gratitude to those who are my colleagues to express my sense of the generous manner in which they have granted me their assistance. Under circumstances of this character, when a new Government is formed, it is not unreasonable that the House of Commons should expect some intimation of the principles upon which the new Administration is to be conducted. I may state that in the present instance my desire will be limited and modified, because it is known, or at least I now declare, that in succeeding to the position of Lord Derby, I have succeeded to that policy which he established when, somewhat less than two years ago, he succeeded to power, and which he has, throughout his administration, more or less advocated. For twenty years I enjoyed his unbroken and unswerving confidence-twenty years that were passed by us in confidential co-operation, absolutely without alloy; and therefore I must be cognizant of the policy of which he approves and of the opinions he will uphold on all the great questions of the day. With regard to our foreign policy, I shall follow the course which has been pursued under the guidance of my noble friend near me (Lord Stanley)—I believe I may say with the approbation of Parliament, I think I may add with the confidence of Europe. That policy is the policy of peace; not of
peace at any price,” not of peace for the mere interests of England, but from the conviction that a policy of peace is for the general interest of the world. We do not believe that that policy is likely to be secured by a selfish isolation on the part of this country, but, on the contrary, by sympathy with other countries, not only with their prosperity, but with their anxieties and troubles. And if such a policy be pursued, I have myself no doubt that when an occasion may arise when the influence of England is necessary to maintain the peace of the world, that influence will not be found inefficient because it is founded upon respect and regard. With regard to our domestic policy, I say at once that the present Admi
I nistration will pursue a liberal policy. I mean a truly liberal policy. A policy that will not shrink from any changes which are required by the wants of the age that we live in, but will never forget that it is our happy lot to dwell in an ancient and historic country, rich in traditionary influences that are the best security for order and liberty and the most valuable element of our national character and our national strength. Speaking of our domestic policy, I must express the deep mortification which this as well as the late Administration feels that, in one of the most interesting and important portions of the United Kingdom, we are obliged still to retain the suspension of the most important security of the personal liberty of the subject. But I will express the same opinion which Lord Derby expressed when he was at the head of affairs-we look upon the Act not as an Act against the Irish people, but as a means of protecting the Irish people from the machinations of an