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FOR THE YEAR
HISTORY OF EUROPE.
Closing Events of the Year 1845–Sudden Dissolution of Sir R. Peel's
Gorernment—Causes of that Event—Failure of the Potato CropLord John Russell is sent for by the Queen- Unsuccessful Attempt of that Nobleman to form a Cabinet—Sir R. Peel returns to Office in the new character of an Opponent to the Corn Laws – Examination of his Conduct and Motives in this juncture-Lord Stanley resigns the Secretaryship for the Colonies, and is succeeded by Mr. W. E. Gladstone-Great interest attending the Assembling of Parliament - It is opened on the 19th of January by the Queen in person, Her Majesty's Speech - Debates on the Address—In the House of Lords it is moved by Lord Howe, and seconded by Lord De RosIt is then put by the Lord Chancellor, and declared to be carriedThe Duke of Richmond makes some severe observations on the Conduct of the Government– He is answered by the Duke of Wellington-Remarks of Lord Stanley, Lord Hardwicke, the Marquis of Lansdowne, Lord Brougham, Lord Radnor, and other Peers—In the House of Commons Lord Francis Egerton moves the Address in an able and impressive Speech, in which he opens the subject of the Corn Laws— He is seconded by Mr. Beckett Denison-Sir R. Peel enters into a full explanation of the Reasons and Motives of his change of Policy, and of the circumstances attending the retirement of his Cabinet from Office and their return to it-Lord John Russell then makes a full statement of the part which he had taken in the recent Transactions, and the results of his Interviews with the Queen on the different oc
casions when he had been consulted by Her Majesty with the Core Vol. LXXXVIII.
respondence which had taken place-Mr. Disraeli follows with some severe animadversions on Sir Robert Peel's conduct – Mr. Miles and Colonel Sibthorp follow on the same side-The Address is carried without a Division - On the 26th the Duke of Wellington states in the House of Lords the Reasons which had induced the Government to resign, and afterwards to return to Office - Remarks of the Duke of Buckingham, who declares his Opposition to the Ministerial Policy -Speech of the Marquis of Lansdowne, explaining his Abandonment of the Principle of a Fixed Duty_Further statement of recent Transactions by the Duke of Wellington-Obserrations of Lord Radnor, the Duke of Richmond, Lord Beaumont, the Earl of Aberdeen, and other Peers on the same subject.
was signalized by political satisfactory solution for the wreck events of the most unexpected of one of the most powerful Cabiand startling character. During nets of modern times.
Yet it soon a period of the most complete re transpired that it was in this appapose in the political world, while rently insignificant cause that Sir the Peel Ministry was to outward R. Peel had found the necessity of appearance in the very noontide his retirement from office. In the of its prosperous career, holding face of the alarming prospect prea position fortified at once by the sented to his mind by the destrucfavour of the Crown and large tion of a large portion of the staple majorities in both Houses of Par- food of the labouring population, liament, suddenly and without a his resolution to maintain the exblow that strong Government was isting Corn Laws gave way, and dissolved, and the foundation on his secession from power was the which it had rested irretrievably consequence. In the latter part destroyed. The news that Sir R. of November Cabinet Councils had Peel and his colleagues had ab- been held very frequently, and it dicated their power excited, both had transpired that the subject of among the adherents and oppo- their numerous deliberations was nents of their policy, the most connected with the great question lively emotions of surprise and cu of the restrictions on food. The riosity, while it forcibly brought leading transactions of this period home to all minds the insecurity will be found recorded in the acand changefulness of political count afterwards given by Sir R. combinations. The event to which Peel in his place in Parliament ; such important consequences were
it will be sufficient to say here, attributed, grave and serious as it by way of introduction, that after has since proved to be, was at that much discussion and much differtime by no means appreciated as ence of opinion in the Cabinet, adequate in importance to the the conclusion was adopted by the effects it had produced. The ap- Prime Minister and his colleagues pearance of an extensive disease to tender their resignations to the in the potato crops in various parts Queen. They were accepted acof the United Kingdom, though cordingly, and the same channels regarded as a serious calamity to of intelligence which announced the poorer classes, especially in the retirement of the Conservative
Government conveyed also the fact recorded convictions, the abdicathat Lord John Russell had been tion of a position which had been sent for, and had received Her achieved with so much industry Majesty's commands to form a Go- and maintained with such disvernment. The commission was tinguished fortune—these
were promptly undertaken by that no the terms upon which Sir R. Peel bleman, but it was not long before prepared to resume the coveted it was understood that serious dif- but unenviable functions of First ficulties impeded the new arrange
Minister of the Crown. To this ments. Dissensions and jealousies must be added, that while the were supposed to exist among the burdens and vexations of office aspirants to the vacant offices, so great, the temptations and considerable doubt prevailed which it offered were little calcuamong many judicious members of
lated to seduce the most covetous the Whig body, whether it con or ambitious aspirant for power, sisted with the true policy of their It was resumed notoriously and party to undertake at the exist- avowedly for a single purpose--ing juncture so hazardous an en the accomplishment of a single terprise as the formation of a measure: this done, the disruption Government committed to an al- of his party would render his reteration in the Corn Laws in the moval from office inevitable, and face of a very powerful opposition, that, too, with a very distant, if both in Parliament and in the any, prospect of return. country. After considerable delay But whatever may be thought of and much fruitless negotiation the the conduct pursued by Sir R. Peel attempt was found impracticable, with reference to the Corn Law and Lord John Russell announced question, during the many years his failure to the Queen. The in which he took so active a part only alternative which the circum- in upholding a system which, with stances of the country now ren- his own hand, he now came fordered possible was the resumption ward to destroy, and whatever imof office by Sir R. Peel; but in the peachment may
be made upon
his altered character which his recent sagacity and foresight as a states. convictions had obliged him to as man, or his consistency as a party sume, as the instrument of a fun- leader, it would seem difficult for damental change in that policy of any one, not blinded by party spiwhich he bad so long been the rit or exasperated by resentment foremost champion and supporter. beyond the bounds of reason, to A task more repugnant to the impugn the honesty of the mofeelings of any statesman possess tives by which he was actuated in ing the least share of sensitive adopting the course now described. feeling can hardly be conceived That course involved the sacrifice than that which the restored of every object and every feeling Premier was about to undertake. most dear to a political leader; it Obloquy and misrepresentation was equally fatal to the reputation the alienation of friends, the re of the past and the prospects of proaches of former supporters, the the future, and it exposed him to sneers and taunts of his opponents,
a storm of obloquy and reproach, the sacrifice of consistency, the under which nothing could have retractation of oft repeated and supported him but a consciousness