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E. H.'s lines were received ; but although full of poetical feeling, they are not written with sufficient care for us.
We fear Y. Y.'s lines are too terrible.
We have to apologize for the omission of “ The Drama” this month, arising from the illness of our respected Correspondent by whom it is furnished; it will be continued in our next.
P. S. and T. G. are declined.
Letters at the Publisher's for S. ; Forsan; Ignotus ; Quidam; G. G.; and M.
L. sends us some lines which he says were“ accidentally" written One evening---we cannot refrain from giving a specimen of the “accidental” school of poetry :
“ Ye glades umbrageous, whose reflected gloom
Certainly this is very beautiful---if L. will send us his real name, we will let the world know to whom they are indebted for this new style.
Jon. Oldbuck the younger. THE NEW ADMINISTRATION,
WITH REMARKS UPON THE CONDUCT OF THE RETIRING MINISTERS.
It would be difficult to point out any period of our history in which the credulity of the public has been so much imposed upon as during the last month; certainly within twenty years nothing of the sort has occurred. In the course of a few weeks we have witnessed the dissolution of that Tory Administration which has conducted the affairs of the country for more than twenty years.--we have seen its head visited by the afflicting hand of Providence, and the whole body has at once mouldered into decay, under circumstances which have produced in the public a very general but as we think a very unjust feeling against some of its most important members.
The accession of Mr. Canding to the Premiership was followed as is well known, by the resignation of all those members of the administration who have distinguished themselves by a strenuous opposition to Catholic Emancipation. No sooner was the fact of this resignation made known, than the newspapers, one and all, denounced the retiring members of the Cabinet, and have ever since continued to abuse them---as only newspapers can abuse. They who never moved in opposition to a Minister, no sooner witness the end of his authority, than they dip their pens in gall, and pursue with the meanest and most illiberal abuse the very men whom they have been accustomed to extol. Let us, however, for a moment consider whether the general censure in which the ex-ministers have been involved, is or is not deserved ?
The fact simply is, that Mr. Canning, a known favourer of Catholic emancipation; accepted the post of premier, without any previous communication with his colleagues; and that they, being known Anti-Catholics---thereupon immediately resigned. The charge deduced from these facts is, that the retiring ministry, by their prompt resignation, impudently endeavoured to prevent His Majesty from freely exercising that prerogative which enables him to make choice of his Prime Minister. That it was in fact an attempt to over-awe the Sovereign. This clamour let it be remembered is chiefly raised by Whigs and Radicals.
As far as the Whigs are concerned, it might be sufficient to remind them, that Mr. Fox “the great idol of Whigism,” as Mr. Canning has termed him, the man in whose steps modern Whigs pretend to follow-when once in similar circumstances, acted in that very way wbich his partisans now so vehemently condemn. The Marquis of 'Rockingham being first Lord of the Treasury, died on the 1st July, 1782; and the Earl of Shelburne, then one of the Secretaries of State, accepted the vacant effice, without any previous communication with his colleagues, Mr. Fox, the Duke of Portland, Lord George Cavendish, and several others, who thereupon all immediately threw up their offices, and went into opposition. This is a precedent which ought at once to silence the Whigs; but if we look at the mere question of conduct, without regard to any precedent, we shall find it impossible to discover in what the alleged impropriety consists.
Every member of the Cabinet possesses a right to retire from his Majesty's Councils, whenever he thinks proper so to do; but this right, like every other, is to be so exercised that it may not work an inconvenience, or if it be impossible to avoid inconvenience, that it may work the least possible inconvenience, to his Majesty and the State. If unnecessary inconvenience is caused, the retiring minister becomes an object of public censure, and every minister upon retiring, acts at his own peril of incurring this censure or not. These propositions are so clear, so entirely born out by examples in our history, and in fact, so reasonable and self-evident, that it would be a waste of time and space, to support them by argument. Nor is it less clear that if the post of First Lord of the Treasury be vacant, and the administration thereby incomplete, that no sooner is that vacancy filled up, than the incomplete administration is virtnally at an end, and the ministers who compose it, may or may not, at their discretion, take a share in the new administration if requested so to do. The case is not altered, whether the person newly appointed to the treasury, be a member of the incomplete administration or not. There is a manifest difference between forming part of a Cabinet with a minister, he not being the chief, and forming part of another Cabinet, of which that same minister is the chief; and this difference is rendered more apparent, if there exists any great opposition of opinion between the new chief and the old chief, or between the new chief, and any of those with whom he has formerly served. In either case, the members of the old cabinet, unless previously pledged to serve under the new Premier, have a clear and undoubted right to refuse, or not, just as they thinķ proper; and either distrust of the competency of the new Premier, or a disapprobation of his political principles, furnishes good ground for refusal. The common and ordinary courtesy which governs the conduct of the members of the cabinet towards each other, renders it usual for a minister who is consulted by the King, upon the formation of a new administration, to communicate with his colleagues, previous to his acceptance of the office. The effects of this understood regulation are threefold, first-the King is thereby treated with more respect, as the minister is prevented from blindly accepting office without knowing whether he can support himself therein or not. Secondly, it is calculated to promote the unity of the cabinet, and prevent the occurrence of such an unseemly exhibition as has lately taken place. And thirdly-if a minister accepts office, without consulting his colleagues, it is evident, that if any inconvenience is occasioned to the public by their sudden resignation, that inconvenience is fairly attributable to him by whose conduct it was occasioned.
If we apply these considerations to the circumstances which have lately occurred, what will be the result ? We shall find that Mr. Canning did not consult his colleagues previous to his acceptance
of office-that by his appointment the Liverpool administration was virtually at an end, and the other ministers were perfectly at liberty to act with Mr. Canning or not; the only remaining consideration is, whether there existed any good reason for their declining to do so. We say that there did, and would place this part of the subject in a twofold point of view.
We freely admit all that Mr. Canning's warmest friends and admirers can allege, as to the brilliancy of his powers, and the superiority of his eloquence; we have already in a previous number of our magazine, given an opinion upon these points, and whatever we then stated, we now most cheerfully confirm. Mr. Canning is truly a brilliant man, and possesses a spirit-stirring eloquence which we thitik no statesman, at the present day, can approach; but is this all? Is eloquence the only requisite for a prime minister? Is it even the chief requisite? For our own parts we think, that in the management of the affairs of a great nation, sober judgment, and steadiness and unisormity of purpose, are qualities of even greater importance than command of language, or profusion of metaphor.' is Mr. Canning possessed of these qualities? We fear his former life, and even bis last brilliant display upon the defence of Portugal, will prove the contrary. Even whilst we now write, an instance of this want of consideration is brought to us, we allude to the appointment of Mr. Plunkett, to the Mastership of the Rolls, and his hasty retirement from it. It was suddenly determined upon; its impolicy became quickly apparent, it was immediately repented of, and the learned gentleman is to be recompensed for his disappointment by a Peerage without office. This inconsiderate rashness forms in our opinion an objection, which goes to the competency of Mr. Canning, and might be very much enlarged upon, but we forbear, our object is to shew that there are reasons for the conduct of the retiring ministers, not to attack the conduct of Mr. Canning unnecessarily.
Another reason for declining to serve under Mr. Canning, and in our estimation a very weighty one, is derived from the Catholic Question. It is not our intention to enter into this much contested dispute; we merely claim for both parties the merit of sincerity, which we apprehend cannot but be conceded. It may be alleged that Catholic Emancipation is not to be made a Cabinet Question in Mr. Canning's administration, any more than it was in that of Lord Liverpool ; and we rejoiced to hear that his Majesty's influence has been exerted to effect this object, but still, there appear to us to exist many objections, which ought to prevent a sincere Anti-Catholic from forming part of an administration, of which, the head is a supporter of the Catholic claims : a friend of the Catholics may very correctly form part of an administration, of which the chief is opposed to him in opinion, upon this point; but if a man once becomes sincerely convinced, that to grant Catholic Emancipation would be to bring the English Church into jeopardy; and such sincere conviction we claim for the Duke of Wellington, Lord Eldon, and Mr. Peel; then by what sophistry can he bring his mind also to the conclusion, that such a state of jeopardy is not materially assisted and advanced by the appointment of a friend of Catholicism to the premiership. What say the Catholics themselves? They hail the appointment of Mr. Canning with rapture, they imagine it to be a step-a great step-towards their success---although they know that ihat success was not made a sine qua non upon his acceptance of office. If we consider the matter thoroughly--- if we call to mind the immense patronage In CHURCH and state, which can be wielded by the prime minister, the obsequeousness--- the servility--- with which such a man is treated, and how fondly those who hope for his favour will echo and support his opinions, who can doubt for a moment that Catholic Emancipation has gained by Mr. Canning's appointment, and that if the Protestant Church may be brought into danger by granting the demands of the Catholics, then that such danger is nearer and more apparent whilst Mr. Canning is at the head of affairs, than it was during the late Administration? Who will say that it is improbable but that his Majesty may be brought into such a situation by the appointment of Mr. Canning, that it may be necessary for him to exercise his constitutional veto against the Catholics, and thus be placed in a situation not at all calculated to increase the loyalty of one portion at least of his subjects? If these apprehensions are well founded, what man who sincerely opposes Emancipation, opposes it as a measure fraught with danger at least to our Protestant Church Establishment, and is fully convinced that to grant it would be unwise, we ask what man who believes thus is blameable if he refuses to form part of Mr. Canning's Administration, the plain and obvious tendency of which is in favour of the Catholic cause?
If therefore we strip the matter of that specious show, that disguise, which party writers have thrown around it, if we look at it fairly and candidly, and not as Aatterers of Mr. Canning, we shall find that the retiring ministers, who have been almost overwhelmed in a torrent of slander and abuse, have in fact acted merely as honest and faithful friends of Protestantism--men who relinquished office upon principle. The newspapers---for instance, that versatile and inconsistent farrago of nonsense and illiberality, whose opinions are as fleeting as the colours of the rainbow, and which sacrifices common sense and every thing else at the shrine of popularity---the old Times, and several other quack productions of the same stamp, have raised an outcry against these noblemen, as if they had desired to prevent the King from exercising his undoubted right of choice. The charge is wholly unfounded, it does not appear that any attempt was made by the old Cabinet even to influence the judgment of his Majesty. Jf such an attempt had been made it would not have been improper; for although by the Constitution no Minister can usurp the prerogatives of Sovereignty, yet is perfectly allowable, nay, it is the duty of the Cabinet to guide and advise the King in the exercise of his prerogatives. And we would ask, has not the King acted under advice and influence upon the present occasion? Has no one interfered with the exercise of this prerogative ? The world is much mistaken if Mr. Canning,