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Review of the State of Public Affairs at the commencement of the year-Unfavourable

features in the commercial and political prospects of the nation-Continued depression

of the money-market and absence of speculative enterprise - Alarm of the Fenian

outbreak in Ireland extended to this country- Reference to this subject in the

Queen's Message to Parliament at the close of the last year-Declining tendency of

the Pablic Revenue-Position of Lord Derby's Cabinet in public favour-Difficult

questions of legislation requiring settlement-Reform Bills for Scotland and Ireland -

National Education-Questions affecting the Established Church- The Irish diffi-

culty, its formidable nature and urgent importance—Remarkable Speech of Lord

Stanley at the Bristol Conservative Banquet, Ireland “the question of the hour"-

Parliament re-assembles after the Recess on the 13th of February-Renewal of the

suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act in Ireland for the term of a year-Statement

made by the Earl of Mayo on introducing the Bill in justification of the further sus-

pension of the law-Statistics of Fenianism in Ireland - Remarks of Mr. Chichester

Fortescue, Mr. Bagwell, and other members—The Bill is passed speedily through the

House of Commons-In the Lords a debate takes place, in which the question of the

Irish Church is made a leading topic-Speeches of Earl Russell, Earl Grey, the

Earl of Ellenborough, and other Peers — The Bill is agreed to - Ministerial changes,

The continued illness of the Prime Minister, Lord Derby, necessitates bis retirement

from office, and Mr. Disraeli becomes First Lord of the Treasury-Other changes in

the distribution of offices—Lord Cairns succeeds Lord Chelmsford as Lord Chan.

cellor, and Mr. Ward Hunt becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer in place of

Mr. Disraeli-Announcement of these changes in both Houses, which are adjourned

for a time in consequence-Mr. Disraeli addresses the inembers of the Conservative

party at a meeting in Downing-street, and states the circumstances under which he

has undertaken the leadership of the Government – Explanations are given in both
Houses on their meeting again after the adjournment--Mr. Disraeli's professions as

to the policy of his Cabinet-Remarks of Mr. Bouverie characterizing that policy,

and on the disorganized state of the Liberal party-Severe animadversions of Earl

Russell in the House of Lords upon the course pursned by the Government in the

last Session-Change in the procedure of the House of Lords - Abandonment of

voting by proxy - Discussion on the nature and origin of that privilege-Lord

Redesdale urges its retention, but does not oppose the Motion, which is carried

nem. con. and embodied in a Standing Order-Discontinuance of Public Execu-

tions—The Home Secretary introduces this measure, recommended by a Select
Committee and strongly supported by public opinion - The Bill meets with some

B

opposition in the House of Commons, but is carried by large majorities in both

Houses and becomes law. In closing our narrative of the domestic transactions of 1867 in the last volume of this work, we characterized that year as one which had left the impression of a somewhat anxious and eventful period. The occurrences which imparted this unfavourable aspect to the past, the most prominent of which were the commercial depression and the Fenian insurrection, threw a cloud also upon the opening scene of the new year. The shock given to confidence, the dulness of trade, and the stagnation of enterprise engendered by the calamitous failures of 1866, still exercised their paralyzing influence upon the money-market, and straitened the means of large classes of the community; while the disquietude caused by the unsettled state of the sister country, and the apprehension of that “organized violence and assassination"

“ which the Sovereign had lately described in her message to Parliament as having extended itself to England, perplexed the minds of politicians, and complicated the problem, so long found insoluble, of the pacification of Ireland. In other respects the aspect of public affairs was not very encouraging. The deficient harvest of the preceding year, combined with the commercial derangements, had begun to tell upon the sources of the public revenue, and inspired the apprehension of increased taxation. The results of the Abyssinian expedition were as yet doubtful, but at the outset it appeared not an improbable conjecture that the expense of such an enterprise, even if successful, would prove greater than the provision made for it.

The political state of England was tranquil, the Administration of Lord Derby, though commanding only a minority of supporters in the House of Commons, was not threatened with immediate danger, and in several of its departments was regarded as skilful and efficient, but it had still some serious difficulties to grapple with. The question of Parliamentary Reform, though settled so far as concerned the representation of England and Wales by the Act passed in 1867, still required to be dealt with in regard to the two sister kingdoms. The large and momentous subject of National Education had been marked out by public opinion, and announced by the speech from the Throne, as ripe for legislative settlement. There were also religious controversies which had of late disquieted the public mind, and caused appeals to be made to the Government for their solution. Yet above all these questions, most prominent in its magnitude, and most urgent in its pressure, towered that of the condition of Ireland. As indicating the feeling which prevailed at this period among thoughtful and sober politicians, it will be sufficient to refer to the declarations made shortly before the reassembling of Parliament by one of the most sagacious and dispassionate of the leading public men of England, Lord Stanley. At a banquet given on the 22nd of January, at Bristol, to Her Majesty's Ministers, at which several members

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