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tant consent to the measure, explaining, in a letter to
the premier, his grave apprehensions on the subject.

The Bill was introduced into the House of Commons
on March 1, by Lord John Eussell (notwithstanding
that he only filled a subordinate place in the ministry
and had no seat in the cabinet), as an acknowledgment
of his former efforts in the cause of parliamentary
reform. Its second reading was carried on March 21,
by a majority of one only, in a remarkably full House.
This was a forerunner of defeat, which speedily followed.

Knight, v. 8, p. 265. In other see Lewis, Adminis. p. 473.

words, the retirement of this ministry b See Le Marchant, Life of Earl

arose from its weakness and want of Spencer, p. 261.

public confidence. See Le Marchant, c Corresp. with Earl Grey, v. 1,

Life of Earl Spencer, pp. 253-257 ; pp. 91, 94. And see Le Marchaiit,

Mir. of Parl. 1841, pp. 2095-96; and Life of Earl Spencer, c. xv.


On April 19, upon a motion that the number of mem- 1831.
bers for England and Wales ought not to be diminished,
the ministry were beaten by a majority of eight. On
April 21, they were again defeated, in the House of
Commons, on a question of adjournment which pre-
vented certain votes that had been agreed to in com-
mittee of supply from being reported for concurrence.
Ministers had meanwhile waited upon the king, with an
iirgent request that he would grant them a dissolution
of Parliament. The king was not easily persuaded to
this step, but they represented to him that the continu-
ance of the existing House of Commons was incompa-
tible with the peace and safety of the kingdom, and that
after this last defeat, which prevented money already
voted from being made use of for the public service,
the dissolution ought to be immediate. Accordingly,
at three o'clock on April 22, the king came down and
prorogued Parliament, ' with a view to its immediate
dissolution.' Meanwhile, rumours of his Majesty's in-
tentions had gone abroad, and a motion was actually
under discussion in the House of Lords for an address
to the king, praying that he would be pleased to refrain
"from this exercise of his undoubted prerogative. Had
the prorogation been deferred for another day, it is
probable that both Houses would have agreed to ad-
dress the king against the dissolution a circumstance
which, while it could not have prevented the exercise of
the royal prerogative, might have operated injuriously
upon public opinion.* 1 The new Parliament was assem-
bled on June 14, and it was soon apparent that the
appeal to the people had been successful. The Eeform
Bill was again introduced, and it passed the Commons
on September 21, by upwards of 100 majority. In the
Lords a different fate awaited it. On the morning of

d Corresp. Earl Grey and Will. IV. v. 1, pp. 224-239. May, Const. Hist,
v. l,p. 118.


1831. Saturday, October 8, the motion for the second reading
of the Bill was negatived by a majority of 41.

But when the second reading of the Reform Bill was negatived
in the House of Lords, by a majority of 41, on the morning of
October 8, 1831, it appears that the propriety of resigning was
seriously discussed by the administration, and that they were only
deterred from that step by the anxiety of the king that they should
retain office, and by a resolution of the House of Commons, passed
on October 10, declaring their unabated confidence in ministers, and
their adherence to the principles of the Reform Bill. 6 A second
defeat on the Bill, in the House of Lords, in the following session,
actually produced a resignation of the ministry, but being sustained
by the Commons, no other administration could be formed, and they
were speedily recalled to office.

On the following Monday, the House of Commons re-
solved that they adhered to the principle and leading
provisions of the Eeform Bill, notwithstanding its rejec-
tion by the other House, and that they had unabated
confidence in the ministry by whom it had been pro-
moted^ On October 20, Parliament was prorogued,
with a speech from the throne stating that its attention
must necessarily be directed, at the opening of the
ensuing session, to the important question of parlia-
'mentary reform. Parliament re-assembled on Decem-
ber 6, and a Eeform Bill was again submitted, which
passed the Commons by a large majority. This time
the second reading was carried in the Lords, by a

1832. majority of nine ; but a defeat in committee showed the
impossibility of success in. the present temper and con-
dition of the House. The creation of a new batch of
peers for the express purpose of carrying the Bill was
openly advocated out of doors ; but the ministry shrank,
at first, from having recourse to such an extreme pro-
ceeding. But when it became clear that a direct and
apparently insurmountable obstacle to the passing of a

' Roebuck, Hist, of Whig Ministry, ' See Grey, Cor. with Will. IV.
v. 2, p. 217 ; Mir. of Parl. 1831, pp. v. 1, p. 375; Le Marchant, Life of
2880, 2910. Spencer, c. xvii.


Reform Bill was to be found in the existing condition of 1832,
the House of Lords, they at length determined upon
this step. In a cabinet minute, dated January 13, 1832,
ministers tendered to the king their advice that in the
event of their inability to carry the Bill in the Lords,
he should exercise his prerogative to create a sufficient
number of peers to insure its safety. Again on May 8,
after their defeat on Lord Lyndhurst's motion, in com-
mittee on the bill, ministers reiterated their request.
But his Majesty refused to comply with it. At the
outset, the king reluctantly consented to a limited
addition to the peerage, which should not exceed
twenty-one (though he afterwards agreed to leave the
number indefinite) ; and which should be effected,
mainly, by calling up heirs to existing peerages. But he
positively declined to sanction an ' unlimited ' addition
to the House of Lords ; or that there should be more
than three new creations, for the purpose of carrying
Reform. 8 Thereupon the ministry resigned. Their
resignation was announced to both Houses on the fol-
lowing evening. Next day, the House of Commons
passed an address to the king, expressing their deep
" regret at this event, and imploring him ' to call to his
councils such persons only as will carry into effect,
unimpaired in all its essential provisions,' the Reform
Bill recently agreed to by the House. Meanwhile, the
Duke of Wellington had been authorised to form a
new administration ; but, after conferring with Lord
Lyndhurst and Sir Robert Peel, he abandoned the task ;
it being evident that such an arrangement would not be
acceptable to the House of Commons. 11 The king then
recalled his late advisers, and most reluctantly gave
them a written permission ' to create such a number of
peers as will be sufficient to insure the passing of the

Grey, v. 2, pp. 311-333. Ed. 304-330. Mem. of J. 0. Herries
Rev. v. 133, p. 306. v. 2, p. 158.

">. WeUn. Desp. 3rd s. v. 8, pp.


1832. Eeform Bill ; first calling up peers' eldest sons. (Signed)
William E. Windsor, May 17, 1832.' The authenticity
of this document, which was first made public in Eoe-
buck's ' History of the Whig Ministry of 1830' (v. 2,
p. 331), has been disputed upon very plausible grounds. 1
It is certainly remarkable that, while it correctly states
the terms of the agreement between the king and his
ministers at this crisis, no mention is made of it in the
official ' Correspondence between Earl Grey and King
William IV.,' which was published in 1867, and which
includes many letters on this subject. 3 The editor of
the correspondence justifies the king in delaying, to
the last extremity, his consent to the proposed creation
of peers. k But at the eleventh hour, the necessity for
this extreme proceeding was avoided by the temporary
withdrawal from the House of a sufficient number of
the Tory peers to give the ministry a decided majority
upon the Bill, during its further progress through Par-
liament. The Opposition were induced to take this
course by a personal communication from his Majesty,
through his Private Secretary ; an interference which,
however irregular it may appear, undoubtedly tended
to avert the difficulties of an alarming crisis. 1 After
this, the Eeform Bills for England, Scotland, and Ireland
became law without further impediment. Parliament
was then dissolved, in order that the new represen-
tative system might be put into immediate operation.
1834. The new Parliament, though composed of various

discordant elements, fully sustained the ministerial
policy. But on May 27, 1834, a resolution was pro-
posed in the House of Commons in favour of the re-

1 See Ed. Rev. v. 125, pp. 539-546. Tory peers was not the result of con-

J V. 2, pp. 68-139, 223-234, certed plan, for the Duke of Welling-

254, 299-34G, 394-444. ton, though he decided, individually,

k Preface, p. ix. to follow the course, declined to advise

1 Le Marchant, Life of Spencer, it, with authority, upon his usual sup-

c. xx. Torrens' Life of Melbourne, porters. See Welln. Desp. 3rd s. v. 8,

v. ], c. xix. The course taken by the pp. 341, 356. See also post, v. 2.


duction of the temporalities of the Irish Established
Church. This led to the secession of four members of
the cabinet (Stanley, Graham, Richmond, and Eipon),
who were unable to agree with their colleagues upon
the manner in which this question should be met. The
vacancies in the ministry were filled up ; but very soon
another difficulty arose. Lord Althorp, the Chancellor
of the Exchequer, determined to retire from the cabinet,
on account of a disagreement arising out of the form
in which the Irish Coercion Bill should be framed and
submitted to Parliament. He had himself authorised
the Chief Secretary for Ireland to acquaint Mr.
O'Connell that certain objectionable clauses would not
be included therein. Nevertheless a majority of the
cabinet, including the premier, had insisted upon their
insertion. This occasioned much angry debate, and
personal recrimination, in Parliament. The conflicting
opinions expressed by ministers on this question were
of so grave a character that a compromise was deemed
to be incompatible with personal honour, or a sense
of public duty. m The ministry had been considerably
weakened by the former resignations, and the loss of
Lord Althorp was the finishing stroke. Accordingly, on
July 8, Lords Grey and Althorp together waited upon
the king, and formally tendered their resignations. On
the following day, Earl Grey informed the House of
Lords of the break-up of his administration. 11

15. Lord Melbourne's First Administration. July 1834.

On July 14, 1834, Viscount Melbourne announced to 1334.
the House of Lords that he had been entrusted with

m See Le Marchant, Life of Earl n Ib. p. 1 ; Knight, v. 8, p. 345.

Spencer, c. xxii. Ld. Broughton's This ministry, before its retirement,

Recollections, in Ed. Rev. v. 133, had lost the confidence of the king,

p. 311. Ld. Hatherton's Memoir and on account of their known views with

Correspondence on the political occur- respect to the Irish Church. See

rences in 1834, pub. by H. Reeve in ante, p. 133.
1872. Peel's Mem. v. 2, p. 10.



the formation of a new ministry. He was instructed
by the king, in the first instance, to endeavour to ob-
tain the services ' of all those who stand at the head
of the respective parties in the country,' and for that
purpose was directed by his Majesty to enter into com-
munication with the Duke of Wellington, Sir E. Peel,
Mr. Stanley, and other parliamentary leaders. But these
negotiations proved abortive, and the king was obliged
to consent to the formation of another Whig ministry,
which was, in fact, a reconstruction of the previous
one under another chief. On July 17, Lord Althorp
informed the House of Commons that he had resumed
his former office, and that the new administration was
complete. The Irish Coercion Bill, then before the
House of Lords, was dropped, and a new and less
restrictive measure was brought forward by Lord
Althorp, and became law. p But the duration of this
ministry was very brief. By the death of his father,
Lord Althorp inherited a seat in the House of Peers.
This necessitated the appointment of a new Chancellor
of the Exchequer and leader of the House of Commons.
Whereupon Lord Melbourne, both verbally and by
letter of November 12, 1834, made known to the king
the posture of affairs, and sought his commands as to
the filling up of the vacant offices ; indicating, at the
same time, his desire that the lead of the House of
Commons should be conferred upon Lord John Eussell.
The king, however, had by this time become a convert
to the principles of the Opposition ; he accordingly
informed the premier that in his opinion the loss of
Lord Althorp from the Commons had so materially
weakened the government in that House as to render it
impossible for them to continue to conduct the public
affairs ; particularly when it was remembered that they

Peel's Mem. v. 2, pt). 1-13. Bui- p Le Marchant, Life of Spencer,
wer's Life of Palmerston, v. 2, p, 203. p. 618.
Torrens, Life of Melbourne, v. 2, c. 1.


were in a minority in the other House. Under these
circumstances, his Majesty determined to consider the
administration at an end, and stated that he should send

for the Duke of Wellington. q

16. Sir Robert Peel's First Administration. Nov. 1834.

Immediately after the dismissal of the Melbourne
administration the king sent for the Duke of Wellington,
and requested him to undertake to form a government.
The duke earnestly recommended that his Majesty's
choice might fall upon Sir Eobert Peel, on account of
the peculiar difficulties presented by the existing state
of the House of Commons. The king consented, but
remarked that he had given the preference to the duke
because of the absence of Sir E. Peel from England.
It was then agreed to summon Sir E. Peel home at once.
In the interim, as it was necessary to take possession
of the government, the Duke of Wellington assumed
the temporary charge of the seals of the secretariat, and
of the office of First Lord of the Treasury, being of
opinion that ' nothing would be more unfair than to call
upon Sir E. Peel to put himself at the head of a govern-
ment which another individual should have formed.' 1
Anxious to place his services at his sovereign's disposal
in this difficult crisis, Sir E. Peel unhesitatingly agreed
to accept the proffered task, although he ' greatly
doubted the policy ' which had led to the breaking up
of Lord Melbourne's government, and ' entertained little
hope that the ministry about to replace it would be a
stable one would command such a majority in the
House of Commons as would enable it to transact the
public business.' He was well aware that by his accept-
ance of office he became ' technically, if not morally,

q Le Marchant, Life of Spencer, v. 1, p. 307.

p. 523. Torrens, Life of Melbourne, r Peel's Mem. v. 2, p. 20. For

v. 2, c. ii. Bulwer's Life of Palmer- observations upon this act of the Duke

ston, v. 2, p. 208. Stockmar's Mem. of Wellington, see^os^, v. 2.

o 2


1834. responsible for the dissolution of the preceding govern-
ment, although he had not the remotest concern in it.' 3

It is noticeable, in proof of the superior correctness of Sir
R. Peel's views of his constitutional obligations, that the Duke of
Wellington had previously written to him to say that he did not
think the new ministers were ' at all responsible ' for the king's
quarrel with their predecessors ; it being ' an affair quite settled '
when his Majesty sent for the Duke.*

He was also fully sensible of the hazard he incurred in
meeting a House of Commons wherein his personal fol-
lowers were in a large minority, with but a doubtful
prospect of improving his position by a dissolution of
Parliament. Nevertheless he did not shrink from the
endeavour to respond to his sovereign's appeal, being
persuaded that Parliament would ' so far maintain the
prerogative of the king as to give to the ministers of
his choice, not an implicit confidence, but a fair trial.' n
After weighing the counterbalancing advantages of an
immediate dissolution of Parliament, or of an attempt
to carry on the government, in the first instance, with
the existing House of Commons, Sir Robert decided in
favour of a dissolution, upon grounds of public policy,
which are explained in his memoirs/ A new Parlia-
ment was accordingly convened for February 19, 1835,
but the result of the elections, while it largely increased
the number of Conservative members, failed to confer
upon the new ministry sufficient strength to enable
them to carry on the government. At the outset of
the session the ministry were defeated in the Commons
on the choice of a Speaker, and upon an amendment to
the Address. w

In the debate upon the Address in the Lords, Lord
Chancellor Eldon defended the change of ministry, and

' Peels Mem. v. 2, p. 31. Mem. v. 2, p. (J7.
1 lb. p. 23. v Ib. pp. 43-48.

u Tamworth Manifesto, Torreus, w Knight, v. 8, p. 355. Torrens,

Life of Melbourne, v. 2, p. 99. Peel's Life of Melbourne, v. 2, c. iii.


consequent dissolution of Parliament, on the ground 1835.
that the previous secession of four cabinet ministers
(see ante, p. 193) had so weakened the government, that
when Lord Althorp was obliged to vacate his seat and
office in the Commons, it became probable that any re-
construction ' was not likely to be permanent, but would
be liable to be broken up, at a time when it might be
productive of much more mischief than the breaking
of it up at that moment was calculated to occasion. ' x

In the Commons, Lord John Eussell argued the
question against the change of ministry with great force
and ability, contending that there had been no sufficient
cause to justify the exercise of the prerogative in dis-
missing the late ministry and in dissolving Parliament.
He also complained of the new cabinet for not having
met Parliament before its dissolution, in order to ascer-
tain whether they would be allowed a fair trial, or be
met with a factious Opposition against the opinion of
the country ; in which case a dissolution might have
been properly advised. y It was furthermore contended,
by Lords Morpeth and Stanley, that ' it is the right and
privilege of the House of Commons to express its opinion
and judgment, and even to offer advice to the sovereign,
as to the circumstances under which, and the mode in
which, he may have been advised to exercise his un-
doubted prerogative of choosing the ministers of the
crown.' 2 The Opposition, however, confined themselves
to moving an amendment to the Address in answer to
the speech, to represent the regret of the House that
the progress of certain important reforms, which had
engaged the attention of the late Parliament, should
have been interrupted and endangered by the unnecessary
dissolution of a Parliament earnestly intent upon the
rigorous prosecution of such measures. This amend-
ment was carried against ministers. It elicited a reply

* Mir. of Parl. 1835, p. 36. ? Ib. p. 85. Ib. p. 74


1835. from the king, expressing regret that the House did not
concur with him as to the policy of the appeal he had
recently made to the sense of his people, and expressing
a confident trust that the success of no good measures
would be injuriously affected thereby. Shortly after
this reply was communicated, Sir Eobert Peel took an
opportunity of informing the House that he did not
intend to resign on account of his defeat upon the
Address, but should persevere, and submit to the con-
sideration and approval of Parliament the measures
contemplated in the speech from the throne. a But
further defeats awaited him. He was obliged to pro-
pose Mr. Bernal for the chair of the Committee of Ways
and Means, from inability to secure the election of any
one in the confidence of the government. The first
diplomatic appointment made by the new ministry, that
of the Marquis of Londonderry, as ambassador to the
court of St. Petersburg, ' could not have been persisted
in,' and was resigned, in consequence of the interference
of the House of Commons. In fact, they met with con-
tinual hindrance in the conduct of public business, and
had not ' the weight and authority to check, through
the opinion and voice of a majority, the vexatious
opposition of individual members. ' b At length, after
several minor defeats, they were left in a minority upon
a motion of Lord John Russell, in regard to the appro-
priation of the temporalities of the Irish Church, and
the adjustment of the Irish tithe question." Anticipat-
ing defeat upon this important motion, Sir Eobert Peel
wrote to the king on March 29, intimating that the
pending debate would necessarily assume the ground of
want of confidence in the administration. Following
upon a succession of votes adverse to the views of min-
isters, there was a ' great public evil in permitting the
House of Commons to exhibit itself to the country free

Mir. of Parl. 1835, pp. 146, 148. b Peel, Mem. v. 2, pp. 87, 88.

c Com. Journ. v. 00, p. 208.


from any control on the part of the executive govern- isss.
ment, and usurping, in consequence of the absence of
that control, many of the functions of the government.'
This state of things ' might be tolerated so long as there
was a rational hope of converting a ministerial minority
into a majority, or of making an appeal to the people
with a prospect of decided success.' But Sir Eobert
Peel entertained the apprehension that ' from continued
perseverance in the attempt to govern by a minority, it
would be difficult for an administration, however com-
posed, to recover a control over the House of Commons;
that the House of Commons, having been habituated to
the exercise of functions not properly belonging to
them, will be unwilling to relinquish it ; and that the
royal prerogatives and royal authority will inevitably
suffer from continued manifestation of weakness on the
part of the executive government.' 4 On April 7, Lord
John Eussell's motion was decided against ministers by
a majority of 27. Next day, Sir Eobert Peel informed
the House that he and his colleagues had resigned office,
in consequence of that vote, regarding it as tantamount
to a declaration by the House of want of confidence in
the government ; and believing that, ' in conformity
with the constitution, a government ought not to per-
sist in carrying on public affairs, after a fair trial,
against the decided opinion of a majority of the House
of Commons;' 6 notwithstanding that it may enjoy, as
upon this occasion, the confidence and favour of the
crown, and possess a working majority in the House of
Lords. f Although Sir E. Peel resigned on Wednesday,
April 8, it was not until the following Saturday that
the king made up his mind to entrust the formation of
a government to Lord Melbourne. 8

d Peel, v. 2, pp. 91-93. For further e Mir. of Parl. 1835, pp. 817, 818.

explanations by Sir R. Peel of his f Ib. 1841, p. 2032.

position at this time, see Mir. of Parl. g See Ed. Rev. v. 133, p. 315.

1841, sess. 2, pp. 158, 159, 211. Torrens, Life of Melbourne, v. 2, c. iv .


17. Lord Melbourne's Second Administration. 1835.

1835. On April 18, Viscount Melbourne announced in the
House of Lords that, by command of the king, he had
formed a new administration. Both Houses adjourned
until May 12, to enable the ministers in the Commons
to go for re-election. No event occurred to affect the
stability of this administration until after the death of
King William IV., and the accession of Queen Victoria

1837. in 1837. Eeposing entire confidence in the men whose
opinions harmonised with those in which she had been
educated, her Majesty continued the Melbourne ministry
in office as her constitutional advisers. But on May

1839. 6, 1839, the ministry sustained a moral defeat upon
their Bill to suspend the constitution of the Island of
Jamaica, the second reading of which was made an occa-

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