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severe and crushing in their effects the failures of the succeeding year were destined

to be. The prospects of domestic politics, previously to the meeting of Parliament, were full of uncertainty. "The Liberal Administration, which had been in some measure reconstructed after the death of Lord Palmerston, with Earl Russell at its head, and Mr. Gladstone as First Minister in the House of Commons, though it appeared externally strong in the support of a large majority, computed at no less than seventy, in the Lower House, was not devoid of some elements of weakness and instability. It was felt that the Cabinet no longer possessed that claim to the confidence or forbearance of the Conservative party which the supposed political leanings of the late Premier had afforded ; nor was the personal popularity of the present chief at all equal to that of the late well-skilled and dexterous leader of the House of Commons. His successor had yet to be tried in that new position, and notwithstanding the incomparable eloquence and great abilities of Mr. Gladstone, it might yet be doubted how far he possessed the peculiar qualities demanded by that arduous post. The difficulties of the Ministry were, however, at the present time greatly enhanced by the task which it was already announced they had taken upon themselves for the ensuing session, that of dealing with the long-pending question of Parliamentary Reform. To attempt legislation on a subject which involved such wide differences of opinion, such opposition of interests, and such grave constitutional problems, was to face certain peril, and not improbable defeat. The Ministry of Lord Russell avowed that they considered the proposal of such a measure without the delay of another session was due to their own consistency, to the just expectations of the country, and even to the obligations of political morality. As to the nature and extent of the measure about to be proposed public expectation was entirely at fault. That there would be a reduction both of the county and borough franchises, and some transfer of representation from the small to the larger constituencies, was obvious enough, but the measure and the degree of these changes, and the checks and qualifications with which the enlargement of the popular element might be accompanied, were pure matters of speculation. To all these uncertainties was added that which related to the temper and tendencies of the new Parliament, elected in the preceding summer, previous to the decease of Lord Palmerston, containing a large infusion of new members, now about to enter on the work of legislation. One circumstance, highly gratifying to the nation, marked the inauguration of the new Legislature. Her Majesty, who since the death of her lamented Consort had not entered the walls of the Palace of Westminster, had announced her intention of opening her Parliament in person. No step on her part could have been more judicious or more pleasing to her subjects. Before, however, this proceeding could take place there were some preliminary ceremonies to be performed the members had to take the oaths, and a

week, was among the most prominent. Serious anticipations were entertained in many quarters as to the inroads which this formidable malady was likely to make upon the sustenance of the nation; and the experience of its former visitations seemed to discourage the hope that, after once gaining a footing on our shores, the disease could, except after a considerable lapse of time, be extirpated. The progress of the cholera, which seemed to be advancing upon us in a westerly course from the Continent of Europe, was another source of anxiety to many. But a worse malady and more difficult to cope with than any physical disorder, was that chronic disaffection in Ireland, which at the present time, under the form of Fenianism, kept the Government in a state of constant vigilance and solicitude. The Special Commission which had been appointed in the latter part of 1865 for the trial of the persons charged with being concerned in this conspiracy, was still carrying on its proceedings at the opening of the new year, and seemed likely to find occupation for some time further in dealing with the long list of cases awaiting adjudication. And although few well-informed persons anticipated that any open outbreak or actual collision with the Queen's forces would take place, the symptoms of deep-rooted and wide-spread hostility to English rule which were manifested in various parts of the country caused serious disappointment to those who had hoped that a tolerant and conciliatory policy had at last made some favourable impression on the Irish mind, and was gradually healing the wounds of past misgovernment. Such flattering hopes the disclosures now made of the state of feeling prevalent in Ireland were but too well calculated to dispel. The only solid ground of satisfaction now afforded was the firmness and vigilance of those to whose hands the Government of the Sister Kingdom was committed. Extraordinary powers, it will be hereafter seen, were found necessary to be vested in them for the preservation of the peace and security of the loyal portion of the community.

The state of monetary affairs at the commencement of the year was not such as could be contemplated without some forebodings. The Bank rate of discount had undergone many and great fluctuations throughout the preceding year, and, when it closed, stood at the high amount of 7 per cent. The year 1865 had witnessed an extraordinary development of the " limited liability” principle in the creation of nearly three hundred new joint-stock trading companies, many of which were formed by the transfer of the undertakings of private firms, having very extensive liabilities or engagements, to limited associations. That many of these schemes originated in the efforts of speculative promoters, having no other object than their own immediate profit in view, no doubt could be entertained ; and those who remembered the results of a similar delusion on the part of the investing public at former periods, could not but anticipate the consequent stages of reaction and collapse which inevitably follow upon a speculative mania. Probably few persons, however, at the end of 1865 could have imagined how severe and crushing in their effects the failures of the succeeding year were destined

to be. The prospects of domestic politics, previously to the meeting of Parliament, were full of uncertainty. "The Liberal Administration, which had been in some measure reconstructed after the death of Lord Palmerston, with Earl Russell at its head, and Mr. Gladstone as First Minister in the House of Commons, though it appeared externally strong in the support of a large majority, computed at no less than seventy, in the Lower House, was

not devoid of some elements of weakness and instability. It was felt that the Cabinet no longer possessed that claim to the confidence or forbearance of the Conservative party which the supposed political leanings of the late Premier had afforded ; nor was the personal popularity of the present chief at all equal to that of the late well-skilled and dexterous leader of the House of Commons. His successor had yet to be tried in that new position, and notwithstanding the incomparable eloquence and great abilities of Mr. Gladstone, it might yet be doubted how far he possessed the peculiar qualities demanded by that arduous post. The difficulties of the Ministry were, however, at the present time greatly enhanced by the task which it was already announced they had taken upon themselves for the ensuing session, that of dealing with the long-pending question of Parliamentary Reform. To attempt legislation on a subject which involved such wide differences of opinion, such opposition of interests, and such grave constitutional problems, was to face certain peril, and not improbable defeat. The Ministry of Lord Russell avowed that they considered the proposal of such a measure without the delay of another session was due to their own consistency, to the just expectations of the country, and even to the obligations of political morality. As to the nature and extent of the measure about to be proposed public expectation was entirely at fault. That there would be a reduction both of the county and borough franchises, and some transfer of representation from the small to the larger constituencies, was obvious enough, but the measure and the degree of these changes, and the checks and qualifications with which the enlargement of the popular element might be accompanied, were pure matters of speculation. To all these uncertainties was added that which related to the temper and tendencies of the new Parliament, elected in the preceding summer, previous to the decease of Lord Palmerston, containing a large infusion of new members, now about to enter on the work of legislation. One circumstance, highly gratifying to the nation, marked the inauguration of the new Legislature. Her Majesty, who since the death of her lamented Consort had not entered the walls of the Palace of Westminster, had announced her intention of opening her Parliament in person. No step on her part could have been more judicious or more pleasing to her subjects. Before, however, this proceeding could take place there were some preliminary ceremonies to be performed the members had to take the oaths, and a Speaker had to be elected, before the House of Commons was ripe for business. For these purposes the Houses met on the 1st of February. For the office of Speaker Mr. Evelyn Denison, who had filled the Chair in the two preceding Parliaments, was proposed by the Right Hon. William Monsell, seconded by Earl Grosvenor, and elected nem. con., the usual complimentary tributes being paid on the occasion. The Speaker elect expressed his sense of the manner in which his nomination had been proposed and seconded, and said he had always endeavoured to do his duty as a faithful and zealous servant of that House. The Right Hon. gentleman was then led to the chair by the mover and seconder, and proceeded to retarn his thanks to the House; and added that, on looking round, he missed one who was long the leader of that assembly, and who by a remarkable combination of qualities had obtained in no ordinary degree the confidence of the House; and he passed a high eulogium on the late Lord Palmerston, dictated, as he said, by feelings of regret and esteem. He asked from those who had been his colleagues in the House a renewal of the confidence they had hitherto accorded to him ; while to the new members he would say that much of the fame which had been acquired by the House had been gained by an adherence to the rules and conduct of its business, a knowledge of which he recommended to the neophytes, assuring them that he should be always ready to afford them friendly counsel and advice.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer congratulated the Speaker on his resumption of the high office to which he had been elected for the third time. He then referred to the many statesmen and members of that House who had passed away, and he mentioned in terms of eulogy Lord Russell, who had been removed to the other House, and Sir James Graham; and dwelt in strong and feeling terms on the loss which the country and the House had sustained by the death of Lord Palmerston, with regard to whom another opportunity would occur of enlarging on his high qualities, as it would be his (Mr. Gladstone's) duty ere long to submit to the House a proposition in connection with Lord Palmerston's name. He added that an acknowledgment of his sense of the loss of Lord Palmerston was especially due from him, considering the arduous and responsible duties to which he had humbly succeeded, and concluded with an expression of his belief in the capability of the new Parliament to discharge its functions, and with a cordial utterance of his belief that the Speaker would receive from the House, as he certainly would from him, all possible confidence and support.

Mr. Disraeli, as leader of the Opposition, concurred in the encomiums which had been passed upon the Speaker, and expressed his confidence in the ability of that gentleman to discharge the high duties to which he had just been called. He intimated at the same time that it would have been more gratifying, as well as in accordance with precedent, if the pleasing task of seconding the Speaker's nomination had been assigned to a member on that side of the House. Mr. Disraeli also took occasion to pay a tribute of regret to the memory of the late leader of the House.

Upon the 6th of February the formal opening of the proceedings of Parliament took place. An account of the ceremonies attendant upon Her Majesty's appearance in the House of Lords on this occasion will be found in another part of this volume'. The Royal Speech, which was read from the Throne by the Lord Chamberlain, was in the following terms:--

" MY LORDS AND GENTLEMEN, — “It is with great satisfaction that I have recourse to your assistance and advice.

"I have recently declared my consent to a marriage between my daughter Princess Helena and Prince Christian of SchleswigHolstein-Sonderbourg-Augustenburg. I trust this union may be prosperous and happy.

“The death of my beloved uncle, the King of the Belgians, has affected me with profound grief. I feel great confidence, however, that the wisdom which he evinced during his reign will animate bis successor, and preserve for Belgium her independence and prosperity.

“My relations with foreign powers are friendly and satisfactory, and I see no cause to fear any disturbance of the general peace.

“ The meeting of the fleets of France and England in the ports of the respective countries has tended to cement the amity of the two nations, and to prove to the world their friendly concert in the promotion of peace.

“I have observed with satisfaction that the United States, after terminating successfully the severe struggle in which they were so long engaged, are wisely repairing the ravages of civil war. The abolition of slavery is an event calling forth the cordial sympathies and congratulations of this country, which has always been foremost in showing its abhorrence of an institution repugnant to every feeling of justice and humanity.

"I have at the same time the satisfaction to inform you that the exertions and perseverance of my naval squadron have reduced the slave-trade on the West Coast of Africa within very narrow limits.

“A correspondence has taken place between my Government and that of the United States with respect to injuries inflicted on American commerce by cruisers under the Confederate flag. Copies of this correspondence will be laid before you.

“ The renewal of diplomatic relations with Brazil has given me much satisfaction, and I acknowledge with pleasure that the good offices of my ally, the King of Portugal, have contributed essentially to this happy result.

1 See the “ Chronicle” for February, post.

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