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Nothing can be clearer. On Monday the 22nd, when the Queen's speech was prepared, the interference, though only permissive, and not carried into effect, required the sanction of Parliament'-but on Tuesday the 23rd, when the Queen's speech came to be delivered, it was no infringement of the law, and no sanction of Parliament was necessary. The Queen's Majesty requires at Tuesday noon none of the advice or assistance for which she was so impatient on Monday night.
What had happened in that so short interval to change the promulgated purpose?' Early on the morning of the 23rd, the First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer dispatched a letter to the Bank revoking the letter of licence-which was notoriously neither more nor less necessary or useful when it was thus suddenly annulled than when it was issued. No man can doubt that this revocation was connected with the alteration in the Queen's speech, and that both were adopted to relieve the Ministers from not merely the trouble of a bill of indemnity, but the much more serious embarrassment of legalizing in the face of Sir Robert Peel the suspension of his chef-d'æuvre ; nor do we doubt that he, considering the bad odour in which his Bill was in the City, was quite as willing to get rid of such a discussion as the ministers.
But what had been the measure itself? Was it really taken with any view or expectation of relieving the mercantile crisis ? We are satisfied that it was not. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, both immediately before and after the letter to the Bank, declared his conviction-somewhat supererogatively we thought—that the Act of 1844 had nothing to do with the distress—it had not caused it, and its suspension would not relieve it. Why then, in the name of common sense and consistency, was it suspended ? For two reasons—the first an obvious one-
--the strong public opinion against the Act, and the incapacity of this ministry to resist anything approaching to popular clamour; but the second—and we suspect the still stronger reason, was that the Bank itself was, or fancied that it was, in jeopardy; and that under the pretexts of yielding to public opinion, and of aiding commercial credit in general, the real cause of the suspension was to still the secret anxieties of the Parlour itself. There is another curious circumstance connected with this transaction. We read in the public papers that on Friday evening, the 22nd of October, Sir Robert Peel being on his way through town to visit the Queen, had a long conference, protracted to midnight, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Such a confidential interview was in itself curious enough; but when we recollect that it took place on the eve of one of the gravest affronts that any ex-minister before Sir Robert Peel had
ever received the repudiation of one of his leading measuresit strikes us as being very strange. We, of course, can know nothing of what passed at that unparalleled tête-à-tête ; but we do know that next day Lord John Russell came to town, and had also a long conference with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that early on Monday the 25th, immediately after those interviews between the parent of the Charter Act and its most zealous sponsors—the Act was unceremoniously discarded as a humbug on the first occasion on which it came to be tried. It is a singular fate for so able and so cautious a man as Sir Robert Peel that all his measures fail—that those puny statesmen whom he had despised, ridiculed, and turned out as unfit for the public service, should now overthrow, without resistance or even remonstrance on his part, his most important measures -the very measures for the sake of which he had submitted himself to such awful sacrifices as no public man ever before made. Lord John Russell repealed his last Corn Law the moment he came into office; and on the first pressure Sir Charles Wood suspended his Bank Charter Act; and in both cases he acquiesced—and in the latter at least, distinctly approved. In fact, nobody doubts that they durst not have done it if they had not obtained his direct or indirect concurrence. This would have been a startling phenomenon in former days, when Governments and Oppositions were expected to fulfil candidly and above-board their respective duties.
The next principal topic of the Queen's speech exhibits the same species of evasion and subterfuge. The commercial distress—so rapidly consequent on vast changes in the ancient commercial polity of the empire, from which both the late and the present Government had triumphantly prophesied a new æra of unparalleled wealth and felicity—this wide and ramified desolation of trade and all that belong to trade, would naturally have formed a prominent feature in the sessional manifesto of a Ministry alive to its duties, as we believe Lord John Russell's to be, and capable of executing them, which we heartily wish it were.
And so it was announced, as we have seen, in the over-night sketch of her Majesty's speech
. The commercial pressure still prevails to a ruinous extent, and calls for relief.': But in the actual speech we find nothing about either ‘ruin' or * relief.' The whole question was to use an old parliamentary phrase-blinked; prominently promised in the programme of the Times—but shirked in the revised speech-squinted but not looked at. To have mentioned it substantively would have been a kind of pledge that they had, or a confession that they ought to have
had, something of a remedy to propose; and the bewildered Cabinet had none. The only legislative interference that any one thought of was the immediate repeal of the Charter Act and that they could not venture on — because, firstly, though they had condemned and suspended it on suspicion—they had at the same time volunteered an opinion that it was not guilty of the mischief; but another and, we are satisfied, more cogent reason was, that, think what they might about his Act, they did not dare to commit themselves in direct conflict with Sir Robert Peel, who, though he might, from various motives, consent to its suspension, could not at once have submitted to the further and more vital affront of its total repeal. Commercial distress was therefore no otherwise noticed in the Queen's speech than as explanatory of the letter to the Bank, and—by a most convenient conversion of the old maxim cessante causâ cessat effectus, into cessante effectu cessat causa—they announced that they had withdrawn the remedy, and gave us to understand that the disease had therefore ceased.
So—with the manifest object of evading discussion-said the Speech—but mark how that object was followed up! As soon as the Commons had returned to their own house-instanterirregularly-most unusually— before even the address to the Throne was proposed--the Chancellor of the Exchequer started and gave
notice that he would move . On Tuesday next for a committee to inquire how far the recent commercial panic was to be attributed to the issue of notes payable on demand-thus again evading discussion for the moment, and instead of meeting their fair and legitimate responsibility as Ministers of the Crown, shifting it upon Parliament, with the obvious hope of hobbling through their difficulties on the crutches of a committee. But they have been still more prudent—though so ready to devolve their own responsibility on a committee, they took care to ensure that the committee should be of their mind; and on this committee appointed to try the merits of the Act of 1844, not one of the able and intelligent gentlemen who had opposed the said Act of 1844 was nominated ! The extreme of timidity, we know, is sometimes audacious, but in this case it was also cautelous—the names of the committee proposed were individually unobjectionable ; the objection could only be negative—that there were others more fit--and the Government thus obtained the double advantage of packing a jury whose individual capacities no one could deny, but of whose verdict they were already assured.
All these shifts and devices, paltry and miserable, are easily seen through, and therefore of no substantial importance except as they discredit the Government; but what follows is of an infinitely graver character-and suggests a series of larger and more painful considerations—IRELAND!
We have, from a comparison of dates and circumstances, very great doubt whether the state of Ireland had any share in originally determining Ministers to assemble Parliament.
It is too true that there has been hardly a week in the last fifty years in which a Ministry would not have been justified in calling the attention of the legislature to the social condition of that perverse and therefore unhappy people—but while the last prorogation was running out, there arrived news of three or four murders, of the class for which, amongst nations, Ireland alone is infamous, and which are of such regular and, as it were, habitual occurrence, that by ceasing to surprise, they seem to be stripped of somewhat of their horror. Each fresh outbreak creates a sensation for the moment, and Lords-Lieutenants offer rewards and publish proclamations, and Ministries reluctantly nitroduce Arms Bills and Coercion Bills, imperfect in their original provisions, and gradually pared down to absolute inefficacy in deference to the Opposition of the day-whose inflammatory harangues in such discussions have done infinitely more mischief than the mutilated Bills were able to do good. We have read speeches delivered by public men both in and out of Parliament that, considering the excitable nature of the Irish people, we could not but consider as downright incentives to the crimes which their language almost justified; while others, more moderate or more guarded, produced nearly as bad an effect by diluting their reprobation of the crime with the suggestion of extenuating circumstances and by plausible propositions for the removal of this or that grievance, to the existence of which they choose, always gratuitously and generally falsely, to attribute the exasperation of the people. This is the prevailing and most dangerous cant. It was that of the Whig Opposition, and is still, we are sorry to say, the tone of the Whig Administration. It is that of the Roman Catholic priests, of whose share in these terrible executions we shall say more hereafter. It is that which misleads and perverts public opinion into seeking theoretic antidotes for imaginary springs of evil, instead of seeing, by the lights of experience and common sense, the main source of these disorders in the lawless disposition and habits of the people (however caused), and the best and indeed only remedy-not in fits and starts of nominal coercion, but—in a strong, steady, and fearless application of the laws
protecting property-so that the peasantry should be at last convinced that the murder of a landlord will not forward that usurpation and confiscation of his estate, which is the sole result that these unhappy and ignorant savages contemplate. It is on this subject and in this view of it, that we the most seriously blame the paragraph of the Queen's speech, in which, after deploring these atrocities, her Majesty is made to account for, and, as it would seem, to excuse them, by recommending to Parliament in the same breath, and evidently as a remedial process, the consideration of the relations of landlord and tenant. The words of the speech are more general-referring only to measures, which, with due regard to the rights of property, may improve the social condition of the people ;' — but having been twitted in debate with the vagueness of this allusion, Sir George Grey put a bold face on the original equivocation, and asked how any one could doubt that a Landlord-and-Tenant Bill was meant.
What conclusion can men of common sense draw from the juxta-position and connexion of these topics? What, above all, will the Irish peasants, so sanguine on this point, be taught by their priestly teachers and agitators to draw?—but that the existing laws of property and the conduct of the existing landlords are at the root of the evil, and that the legislature not having applied any remedy for an admitted grievance—a grievance denounced from the Throne itself-they were justified in taking into their own hands what one of their reverend apologists, while defending himself from the charge of being the immediate instigator of a murder, audaciously calls the wild JUSTICE of revenge'-a phrase, by the way, borrowed by Father Macdermott from Bacon, and at second-hand; for it is clear that had he read the whole passage, he never would have directed attention to it,
Revenge,' says Bacon, is a kind of wild justice, which the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to weed out.'
Do we mean to charge her Majesty's Ministers with an intention to countenance these horrors ? God forbid ! but we tell them, more in sorrow than in anger, that they have been guilty of great imprudence and injustice in thus collocating the proved but unpunished atrocities of the peasantry with the imputed but, we believe, wholly unprovable misconduct of landlords.
We warn them, moreover, of the absolute impracticability of the object which seems now paramount in all their measures—the endeavour to reconcile the destructive alliances which they made and the destructive principles which they adopted in their Opposition state, with the sober and severe task of governing the country. It is this halting between two opinions,' or, what