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to defer the consideration of the report until May 1.
Mr. Secretary Canning replied that the delay which had
arisen in filling up the office of premier had resulted
from a hope that Lord Liverpool's illness might prove
but transitory, and that ministers were ready to assume
as much responsibility for the same as for any other act
of their administration. But no further delay would
take place, inasmuch as the king, regarding the premier's
recovery as hopeless, had authorised the formation of a
new ministry. Under these circumstances, he claimed
that the necessary supplies should be granted, otherwise
the House would affix a stigma upon those who still
remained in office, which would be equivalent to a vote
of censure, and would strike at their existence as a
ministry. Mr. Tierney then asked for an assurance
that some definite arrangement with respect to the
administration would be entered into before the House
adjourned for the holidays. This Mr. Canning refused
to give ; whereupon Mr. Tierney declared that he must
persist in his amendment, and resist any further grant
of money until he knew in whose hands the govern-
ment of the country had been placed. The Chancellor
of the Exchequer reminded the House that they had
already been informed that the proposed grant was
merely sufficient to enable the government to be carried
on until after the recess. No more money would be


asked for until a new administration was formed ;
otherwise he admitted that 'it would have been the
imperative duty ' of the House to oppose the same.
The original motion was then put, and agreed to on
division.* The want of agreement amongst the great
party leaders with whom negotiations for a new ministry
had been entered into induced Sir Thomas Lethbridge
to give notice of a motion for an address to the king
that he would be pleased to take into consideration, in
the appointment of his ministry, ' the great importance
of unanimity in any cabinet on questions affecting the
vital interests of the empire.' On April 6, however, the
day on which this motion was to have been brought
forward, the king came to town, professedly in order to
take decisive steps to put an end to this protracted dis-
organisation of the cabinet, and Sir T. Lethbridge, by
the advice of his friends, determined not to press his
motion, although invited to proceed with it by Mr.
Secretary Canning. The king had now finally deter-
mined that the new ministry, like its predecessor, should
consider the Catholic claims as an ' open question,' and
also that Mr. Canning should be premier, notwithstand-
ing his previous prominence as the strenuous advocate
of emancipation. 11

11. Mr. Canning's Administration. April 1827.

It was on April 10, 1827, that Mr. Canning, who 1827 -
held at the time the office of Secretary of State for
Foreign Affairs, was commissioned by the king to
prepare a plan for the reconstruction of the adminis-
tration under his own presidency. The policy he in-
tended to pursue in reference to the Eoman Catholic
question is uncertain, and has been made the subject of

Parl. Deb. N.S. v. 17, pp. 157-171. b Ann. Reg. 1827, p. 99.

VOL. I. if


1827. controversy between his friends and opponents. A new
writ was moved for, on behalf of Mr. Canning (upon his
appointment as First Lord of the Treasury and Chan-
cellor of the Exchequer), on April 12. At the same
time it was moved to adjourn the House for the Easter
holidays, until May 1. This motion was opposed by
Mr. Tierney, who desired that the House should know
of whom the new ministry would be composed before
it adjourned for so long a period. In reply, Mr. Wynn
stated that undoubtedly some difficulties had occurred
in the formation of a ministry, but that an arrange-
ment was now in progress, and would certainly be com-
pleted before the time of adjournment had expired.
The motions were then agreed to without a division.
As soon as he was in a position to do so, Mr. Canning
made overtures for assistance in the formation of a
ministry to his colleagues in office ; but for the most
part they were either civilly or contemptuously rejected.
Nearly the whole interval of the adjournment was spent
in further negotiations. Disappointed in the support of
his former associates, Mr. Canning was obliged to make
new alliances, and his administration was finally com-
pleted by a Coalition with the Whigs, between whom
and himself there had been heretofore a decided political
antagonism. Explanations were given in the House of
Commons by the retiring as well as by the incoming
ministers on May 1, and in the House of Lords on the
day following. The new premier was assailed by an
inveterate hostility in both Houses of Parliament ; and
attacks upon the new ministry were continued through-
out the session. The principles of the Coalition were
vehemently attacked, 3 and the Opposition made repeated
attempts, by enquiries of ministers, to elicit further par-
ticulars than had already been communicated in regard

' Lewis, Admiuis. p. 440. Bui- pp. 648, 853, 1083, (Commons) pp.
wer's Life of Palmerston, v. 1, bk. iv 607, 553, 1028.
" Parl. Deb. N.S. v. 17, (Lord?)


to the circumstances which had attended the formation
of the ministry ; and particularly whether certain ap-
pointments had been made provisionally, with the inten-
tion of a future rearrangement of ministerial offices.
But Mr. Canning refused to give any further explana-
tions, or ' to answer a single question relative to the
late transactions, unless it were brought forward as a
motion.' He considered it to be beneath the dignity of
the House to waste its time in irregular and extraneous
discussions. It should revert to the old usage of Par-
liament, and submit by formal motions such questions
as it might be desirable for the House to entertain. 6
This incessant exhibition of party spirit hindered
the progress of public business, and prevented the
passing of any important measures. The principal
events of the fragment of the session which succeeded
the formation of Mr. Canning's ministry were, the per-
sonal alienation of Mr. Peel from the government, and
the insertion of a hostile amendment in the Corn Law
Bill, upon motion of the Duke of Wellington, which led
to the abandonment of the Bill by the Government. f
At length, on July 2, Parliament was prorogued ; but
within six weeks of that period the great and gifted
minister was no more. The labours and anxieties of
office had brought him to an untimely grave, g

12. Lord Goderictis Administration, August 1827.

The death of Mr. Canning led to the placing of Lord 1S27.
Goderich, early in August, at the head of the adminis-
tration ; otherwise the composition of the cabinet was
but slightly altered. Mr. Herrieswas introduced into it
as Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the room of Mr.
Canning ; but this appointment was so distasteful to
the Whig section of the Cabinet, that the Marquis of

e lb. pp. 932-934. ' Lewis, Adrninis. p. 442.

Knight, v. 8, p. 208.


1827. Lansdowne waited upon the king to resign the seals of
the Home Department. Mr. Herries was objected to on
political grounds, and also because he was understood to
be a nominee of the king. In point of fact Lord Gode-
rich had selected Lord Palmerston for that office, but
yielded to the wishes of the king, who had a strong dis-
like to Palmerston, and was very decided in his prefer-
ence for Mr. Herries. h The new premier lacked the
energy and decision of character that had enabled Mr.
Canning to reconcile the discordant materials of which
his cabinet was composed ; accordingly, the dissensions
which were unavoidable amongst such ill-assorted com-
panions became more virulent, and rendered the
ministry weaker and more helpless the nearer they
approached to the meeting of Parliament. The Whigs,
though seemingly reconciled to the presence of Mr.
Herries, only tolerated him, and strove to diminish the
just influence of his office by assuming the control of
matters that were clearly within the jurisdiction of the
finance minister. In so doing, they overthrew the
government. The occasion which led to this result ap-
peared trivial and unimportant, but it truly indicated
the hostility which prevailed between the rival parties
in the cabinet. Mr. Canning, on opening the budget in
1827, had avowed the necessity for a thorough scrutiny
into the financial condition and resources of the country,
and had pledged himself to propose to the House, in the
ensuing session, the appointment of a finance committee.
Desirous of carrying out this engagement, the new
cabinet began, towards the middle of November, to turn
their attention to the formation of this committee. Mr.
Tierney (the Master of the Mint), and his Whig friends

h Compare Bulwer's Life of Pal- sented to remain in office on condition

merston, v. 1, pp. 183, 196, 377, with that he might have the royal authority

Mr. Herries' own account of these for stating that he did so in submission

transactions in his memoirs, by his to the express desire of his Majesty,

son, v. 1, c. v. And see Ed. Rev. Lewis, Adminis. p. 446, n.
T. 153, p. 390. Ld. Lansdowne con-


in the cabinet, forthwith intrigued to get Lord Althorp 1827.
fixed upon as the government nominee for the chair-
manship of this committee. They succeeded in obtain-
ing the premier's consent to his appointment, Lord Gode-
rich being under the impression that the Chancellor of
the Exchequer was a consenting party thereto. When
he learnt that the proposition had not been communi-
cated to Mr. Herries, he desired that he should be con-
sulted upon it immediately. When Mr. Herries became
aware that a matter so intimately connected with his
own department had been arranged without his know-
ledge, he was naturally indignant. He was also of
opinion that the appointment was objectionable on its
own merits. Accordingly, he sought an interview with
the premier on November 29, at which he made
known to his lordship the strong objections he enter-
tained, both on public and personal grounds, to Lord
Althorp's nomination, and to the proceedings of his col-
leagues in reference thereto. Lord Goderich received
the communication with considerable agitation ; ad-
mitted the wrong that had been done ; and agreed that
no time should be lost in removing the objections which
had been stated. 1 Mr. Herries subsequently made a
protest, in writing, against the nomination of Lord
Althorp ; after which the matter seems to have remained
in abeyance for about a month, during which interval
the government was in the agonies of dissolution from
other causes. The premier, in fact, tendered his re-
signation to the king. But about December 19, the
ministerial difficulties were tided over for a while.
Whereupon Mr. Herries again addressed the premier
respecting the chairmanship of the Finance Committee,
and offered to resign his office, so as to enable the
government to appoint their own nominee. Hearing of
this, Mr. Secretary Huskisson informed the premier that,

1 Ann. Reg. 1828, p. 7.


unless Lord Althorp's appointment were persisted in he
would himself resign. Some further correspondence
took place between the parties concerned, but without
leading to any better understanding. Accordingly the
premier, being unable to restore harmony in the cabinet,
waited upon the king on January 8, informed his
Majesty of the irreconcilable differences amongst his
colleagues, and by desire of the king retired from office. 3
Thus perished the Canning Coalition ' before it had been
able to acquire a character, or gain that hold on public
confidence which had been forfeited by the sudden
reconciliation of the ancient enemies of whom it was
composed.' k The dispute between Mr. Herries and Mr.
Huskisson may have been the last straw that broke the
camel's back ; but, if so, it must have been already
sinking under the pressure of accumulated burdens.
The new ministry had scarcely been in existence more
than five months, and was dissolved without ever having
met Parliament ; a circumstance wholly unprecedented
in our political annals.

13. The Duke of Wellington's Administration. 1828.

1828. On January 8, 1828, the king sent for Lord Lynd-

hurst (the Lord Chancellor) and the Duke of Welling-
ton, who was Conimander-in-Chief, and entrusted the
formation of a new ministry to the latter. Whereupon
his grace resigned the office of Commander- in-Chief,
and took that of First Lord of the Treasury. 1

It appears, however, that at first the Duke of Wellington saw no
objection to his retaining the command of the Army, in conjunction
with the office of premier ; and only gave way at the remonstrance

J Bulwer's Life of Palmerston, v. 1, public life of Mr. Herries, 2 v., 1880 ;

pp. 208-212. For accounts of the Welln. Desp. 3rd s. v. 4, pp. 73-180.

transactions which led to the down- k Ann. Reg. 1828, p. 11.

fall of this ministry, see Ann. Reg. ' Hans. D. N.S. v. 18, p. 63.
1828, cc. i., ii. ; Memoir of the


of Sir Robert Peel, who told him that the country would not
tolerate such an unconstitutional arrangement." 1

There was no difficulty or delay in the construction
of this government. It consisted, as nearly as possible,
of men who had formed part of Lord Liverpool's ad-
ministration, with the exception of certain Whigs
brought in by Mr. Canning, who were excluded upon
this occasion. Parliament was not in session when
these events took place. It met on January 29, and
new writs were immediately issued for the re-election of
such members of the new ministry as had seats in the
House of Commons. The only representative of govern-
ment remaining in the House during this interval was
the Secretary-at-War (Lord Palmerston), who had un-
interruptedly continued in office, during successive
administrations, since 1807 ; and who had been re-
appointed, with a seat in the cabinet, by the Duke of
Wellington. 11 Notwithstanding the absence of the other
cabinet ministers, and of their colleagues in office, the
House proceeded with the debate upon the Address in
answer to the speech from the throne, on the principle
that the absence of ministers ' by no means takes from
the House the right, or abridges the right, of free dis-
cussion.' But at the same time it was generally admitted
that ' it would be inconvenient and unsatisfactory to
attempt to enter upon questions intimately connected
with disputable measures, in the absence of those whose
duty it is to sustain those measures.' Lord John
Eussell went further, and said that while ' he certainly
saw symptoms of danger in the formation of the govern-
ment, he would not make up his mind definitely until
he saw it act ; ' for that ' it was but fair to wait for the
measures of a new ministry before the House decided

m Martin's Pr. Consort, v. 2, p. 262. n See post, v. 2.
Ton-ens' Life of Melbourne, v. 1, p. Hans. D. N.S. v. 18, pp. 44, 49,
301. 61.


1828. upon its character.' p Ministerial explanations were not
given to the House of Commons until February 18,
although the principal cabinet ministers had taken their
seats several days previously. The delay, however,
appears to have arisen from accidental causes.* 1 This
ministry, like its immediate predecessors, was composed
of a combination of men of different political opinions,
especially in regard to the Eoman Catholic claims,
which it had been expressly stipulated by the king
should be treated as an open question/ Ere long, how-
ever, the followers of Mr. Canning (viz. Mr. Huskisson,
Lords Dudley and Palmerston, and Messrs. Lamb and
C. Grant) seceded from the cabinet, and the Duke of
Wellington embraced the opportunity to replace them
by men whose political principles were more akin to his
own. 8 Early in the session the new ministry were de-
feated, in the House of Commons, upon the question of
the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts, but after
feeling their way in the House of Lords, they agreed to
abandon these restrictive laws in favour of the principle
of religious liberty.* This triumph of the dissenting
interest was speedily followed by another ministerial
defeat through the adoption, in the House of Commons,
of a resolution in favour of the Roman Catholic claims.
Sir E. Peel, who was then Home Secretary, afterwards
declared that it had been his intention to decline to re-
main in office as minister for the Home Department and
leader of the House of Commons, ' being in a minority
on the most important of domestic questions.' But the
threatened danger to the ministry, from the retirement
upon totally distinct grounds, of the Canningites,

P Hans. D. N.S. v. 18, p. 67. present.' Mir. of Parl. 1828, p. 21.

o Ib. pp. 450, 403, 638. Lord ' Peel's Mem. v. 1, p. 12.

Palmerston having been requested, in Bulwer's Palmerston, v. 1, bk. v.

the debate on the Address, to give Welln. Deep. 3rd a. v. 4, pp. 465-472.

some account of the recent cabinet ' May, Const. Hist. v. 2, p. 389.

changes, declined doing so, ' until the Torrens, Life of Melbourne, v. 1, p.

parties principally concerned shall be 310.


* and the real difficulty of constructing, from any com-
bination of parties, any other government at that time,'
induced him not to insist upon his own resignation at
this mornent. u In the interval between the close of the
session, and the next meeting of Parliament, it became
apparent, from events which transpired in Ireland, that
the repeal of the Eoman Catholic disabilities could no
longer be delayed, consistently with the preservation
of the public peace. Accordingly the ministry deter-
mined to give way, and on November 16, 1828, the
Duke of Wellington submitted to the king a memo-
randum (prepared three months before) embodying a
plan for the settlement of the Eoman Catholic question ;
which his Majesty reluctantly consented should be laid
before the heads of the established Church for their
consideration. On January 12, 1829, Mr. Peel addressed 1329.
to the premier a memorandum, setting forth in much
detail his reasons for believing that the Eoman Catholic
claims could no longer be treated as an open question ;
and that the consent of the king should be sought to a
consideration of the question by a united cabinet. In
this memorandum his colleagues concurred. A copy
of it was communicated to the king by the Duke of
Wellington ; and on the following day his grace, Sir
E. Peel, and the four other ministers who had hitherto
opposed these claims, had each a separate interview
with his Majesty, at which they succeeded, after much
difficulty, in obtaining his consent to a re-consideration
of the question, in connection with the existing state of
Ireland. But it was understood that the king was not
bound to adopt the conclusions of his advisers, what-
ever they might agree upon. The draft of the royal
speech at the opening of Parliament contained a para-
graph which implied an intention on the part of govern-
ment to adjust this question. When it was submitted

u Peel's Mem. v. l,p. 103.


to the king he gave an unwilling consent to this passage.
Afterwards, upon notice being given to the House of
Commons of the introduction of the Bill itself, the king
sent for the premier, the Lord Chancellor, and Mr.
Peel, and insisted that it should contain no alteration
in the terms of the oath of supremacy. The ministers
declared that it must necessarily do so. Much unavail-
ing argument ensued, which ended in ministers tender-
ing their resignation, and in the king accepting the
same. But in a few hours the king changed his mind,
and wrote to the Duke of Wellington that he anticipated
so much difficulty in the attempt to form a new admi-
nistration, that he had decided to recall his late advisers,
and authorise them to proceed with the measure they
were about to submit to Parliament/ This impediment
being removed, the Bill was introduced and speedily
became law/'

No further ministerial difficulties occurred until after
the death of King George IV., which took place on
June 26, 1830. His Majesty William IV. intimated
his pleasure that there should be no change of ministry;
but the Duke of Wellington, in reviewing the situation,
and with a view to concentrate the power of the govern-
ment in the hands of the leader of the House of Com-
mons, expressed a desire to take this opportunity to retire
from office, and he earnestly entreated Sir E. Peel to
undertake the government, as First Lord of the Treasury
and Chancellor of the Exchequer. Sir E. Peel, how-
ever, was averse to this change, and the duke continued
to serve as prime minister/ The breaking out in France

T Peel's Mem. v. 1, pp. 284-350 ; at all events have been submitted to

Lewis, Adminis, pp. 456-463. Welln. Parliament by a Whig and not a Tory

Desp. 3rd s. vv. 4 & 6. administration. See May's Const.

w This abandonment of their former Hist. v. 2, p. 56. See also the case

political convictions on the part of of Sir R. Peel and the Corn Laws, in

ministers gave great offence to the 1846. Ib. p. 74.
Tory party, who contended that x Welln. Desp. 3rd s. v. 7, pp. 102-

emancipation, if unavoidable, should 108.


of the three days' Ee volution of July 1830 gave an im- 1330.
petus to the advocates of parliamentary reform in Eng-
land. At this juncture the dissolution of Parliament
(consequent upon the demise of the crown) took place ;
and the elections were held under the sympathetic ex-
citement caused by the ' three glorious days of July/
which naturally produced a House of Commons unfa-
vourable to the Wellington ministry, and prepared to
adopt measures of reform. In the month of September
the country sustained an unexpected loss in the melan-
choly death of Mr. Huskisson, which occurred at the
opening of the Liverpool and Manchester railway. Soon
after this event, the Duke of Wellington invited Lord
Palmerston to enter the cabinet, promising also a seat
to two of his political friends. But his lordship declined
office, unless Lords Grey and Lansdowne were included
in the arrangement. This put an end to the matter,
as it involved a complete remodelling of the cabinet,
which the duke did not contemplate/ Upon the assem-
bling of Parliament, in the following October, it speedily
became apparent that a crisis was at hand. The down-
fall of the ministry was precipitated by a declaration
from the Duke of Wellington that no reform was
necessary. Great excitement arose in the public mind
upon this question. On November 15, the ministry
were defeated in the House of Commons on a motion
to refer the civil list estimates to a select committee.
The next morning they resigned. 2 It was afterwards
admitted, both by the Duke of Wellington and Sir
Robert Peel, that their retirement on this question was
only a pretext, and that the real reason was a wish not
to ' expose his Majesty and the country to the con-
sequences that might result from the government going

y Lewis, Adminis. p. 471. Bui- resignation, see Welln. Desp. 3rd s.
wer's Palmerston, v. 1, p. 362. v. 7, pp. 360, 383, 460.

1 For the alleged causes of their


out on the success of the question of parliamentary
reform.' a

14. Earl Grey's Administration. 1830.

On November 16. 1830, the king sent for Earl Grey
and entrusted him with the formation of a ministry.
This ministry was intended to be comprehensive, or, in
other words, a coalition, with parliamentary reform as
its basis. b On the 22nd instant, his lordship informed the
House of Lords that he had succeeded in the undertak-
ing, and briefly explained the principles upon which his
administration would be conducted. As soon as the
state of the public business would permit, Parliament
was adjourned until February 3. A committee of four
members of government, two of whom were of the
cabinet, was directed to prepare the details of a Eeform
Bill, upon principles laid down by the premier. Their
report was adopted by the cabinet, and submitted for
the approval of the king, on January 30, a day already
memorable in English history as being the anniversary
of the execution of Charles I. The king gave a reluc-

Online LibraryAlpheus ToddOn parliamentary government in England : its origin, development, and practical operation (Volume 1) → online text (page 18 of 85)