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either in consequence of internal disunion which can never be made either adequate or satisfactory, or at a time of national danger and difficulty, which always looks like fear and shrinking from responsi. bility. But there may be no help for it.
Lord Howick gave way; and on the 16th of January, after a short Christmas recess, part of which had been spent by Lord and Lady John and their children with the Queen at Windsor, Lord John was able to assure the House that the Ministry had decided on suspending the Canadian constitution for four years, on sending Lord Durham to Canada, and on authorising him, in concert with any five members of the Council, to frame laws.
In this proposal the great majority of the House concurred. The resolutions which Lord John Russell proposed were adopted ; a Bill founded on them was passed, and by the end of January the Ministers were able to devote themselves to the ordinary work of the session. Though the discussions on which they had been engaged had successfully terminated, the policy which the Government had adopted had increased the irritation of their more Liberal supporters. Men, who were already dissatisfied with Lord John's so-called “Finality' declarations, were annoyed at the suspension of constitutional government in an important colony. They had soon an opportunity of displaying their vexation. On the 15th of February Mr. Grote, who is best known to the present generation as the historian of Greece, but who was regarded fifty years ago as the most earnest member of the Radical party, proposed a motion for the adoption of the ballot. It was almost impossible for the Ministry, after Lord John's speech in December, to do otherwise than exert its utmost strength in opposing it. Lord John, though he was far from well, came down to the House and spoke strongly against it, and the Ministry eventually succeeded in throwing out the motion by 315 votes to 198. Yet during the three years in which it had been in power it had never experienced a more significant division. The majority by which the Government was supported was largely composed of its usual opponents; the minority by which it was opposed consisted of its nominal supporters; and, to increase Lord John's personal difficulty, everyone imagined that his own declaration had created the embarrassment, which was in reality due to the Prime Minister's reluctance to make the ballot an open question. Those, indeed, who were behind the scenes warmly approved Lord John's conduct. Lord Spencer wrote on the 20th of February—
The list of the division was awful. It was one of the many things that disgusted me with politics, to see the selfishness of people. That a great body of men who feel and are convinced that it is of the utmost importance to keep your Government in power should do their best to throw you out on such a question as the ballot, merely because they will not hazard a little temporary popularity with their constituents, is too bad. I still am of opinion that the course you have taken will do you good and raise your character: for all, even of those who like myself approve of the ballot, must be pleased to see you take a firm and decided tone, and not allow yourselves to be driven about because those who ought to follow you want to lead.
Notwithstanding Lord Spencer's opinion, Lord John was naturally “disgusted with the result of the division. It was reported all over the town that he had resigned.” The rumour reached his father, who was passing the spring at Nice, and who wrote and told his son that he had been informed that he had been out and in again, and that he was actually out of office for three hours. But neither the Ministry nor its leader was out. On the contrary, the Government was about to be placed more firmly in office by an indiscreet movement on the part of its opponents. Sir William Molesworth, representing the feelings of the extreme Radicals, proposed on March 7 a direct vote of want of confidence in Lord Glenelg, the Colonial Minister. He grounded his attack, not merely on the Canadian revolt, but on the general policy of the Colonial Office, and on its refusal to grant autonomous institutions to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. Sir Robert Peel was unwilling to support such a motion, but, as his followers insisted on his seizing the opportunity of assaulting the Treasury Bench, he entrusted Lord Sandown with an alternative amendment, censuring the dilatory conduct of the Colonial Office, but condemning still more strongly the “wicked and treasonable designs of the insurgents in Canada. No fairer amendment was ever moved by an Opposition leader. It seemed to have been purposely drawn to prevent the Conservative party from forming even a temporary alliance with the Radicals, since it denounced the insurgents, whom the latter were disposed to favour, at least as vehemently as it censured the Minister whom they desired to condemn. Yet so strong was the Conservative phalanx in the Parliament of 1837 that the Ministry was in some apprehension of defeat, and Lord John himself told the Queen that he could not rely on a majority of more than fifteen." The result of the division was twice as satisfactory. The Government was supported by 316 votes to 287, and the unexpected success naturally increased the confidence of its friends. Lord Spencer wrote on the 13th of March—
* Greville, 2nd ser, i. 61.
I flatter myself you will now get smoothly over this session. Your victory was decisive.
Fortified by their success, Ministers resolutely pushed on the Bills which they had decided on introducing. Foremost among them was the Irish Poor Law. And this measure the Government had the satisfaction of carrying very much in the shape in which they had introduced it. But the Poor Law in a political sense was of less importance than the Tithe Bill, which had been the cause of the formation of the Ministry, or than the Municipal Bill, for the sake of which Mr. O'Connell and the Irish were ready to abandon the Appropriation Clause. For years these questions had occupied the time of the Legislature; and it was at least evident that, if the Ministry had been unable to carry Appropriation in the Parliament of 1835, it was hopeless for them to attempt to do so in the Parliament of 1837.
It was, however, almost as difficult to abandon the Appropriation Clause as to carry it; and Lord John thought that the possibility of doing so might be improved if some provision were simultaneously made for the Roman Catholic clergy. He suggested the alternative to the Viceroy at the close of 1837; and Lord Mulgrave saw Dr. Murray, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, and replied on the 23rd of December—
* Greville, 2nd ser. i. 76.
I did not find that he personally saw the objections to the plan which most of his brethren did ; but he said he feared it was as yet too soon to attempt it, from the state of feeling of either the Catholic clergy or laity. He volunteered to state that he considered such a question would present itself in a very different aspect coming from this Government than it would from any which had preceded it. But he added, ‘I think it would require a little more time thoroughly to extend to questions affecting religion that entire confidence which for the first time they feel in everything affecting their temporal concerns.”
Archbishop Murray's answer made any scheme of concurrent endowment impossible; and, early in 1838, Lord John circulated a fresh proposal among his colleagues, converting the tithe composition into a rent-charge leviable on the first estate of inheritance; fixing the rent-charge at seventy-five per cent. of the composition ; applying it to the payment of the Irish constabulary and other Irish purposes; charging on the Consolidated Fund an equal sum for the payment of the clergy; and allowing the sum so charged to be redeemed at sixteen years' purchase of the original composition, or at twenty-one and a quarter years' purchase of the rent-charge. Mr. Drummond, the Irish Secretary, made a determined but unsuccessful effort to induce the Government to modify their proposal by applying the rent-charge to the construction of arterial lines of railway in Ireland. Lord Mulgrave, writing on the 21st of February, supported Mr. Drummond. But the alternative was not adopted ; and the Cabinet accepted Lord John's proposal with slight amendments, the most important of which was the reduction of the rent-charge from seventyfive to seventy per cent, of the composition.
Before the Ministry adopted this plan Lord John undertook, through the Archbishop of Canterbury, to consult the Primate of Ireland upon it. In doing so, on the 15th of March, he said that—
Unless the Church were disposed to accept it as a settlement the Government are of opinion that it would not be advisable to renew the discussion of Irish tithes—to end in fresh disappoint
ment. The Archbishop of Armagh, replying through the same
channel on the 20th of March, declared that—
The proposed scheme of final adjustment, as it is presented in outline, appears to me to comprehend matters of so wide a range, and alterations of so important a character both as regards the nature of the sacrifices demanded and the sacrifices proposed, that it would be unsafe and indeed impossible to decide upon its character until its provisions shall have been embodied in a distinctive and formal shape.
Evidently compromise could not be effected with the heads of the Church. But perhaps the Ministry thought that there was more hope of arranging terms with their regular opponents. On the 27th of March Lord John asked Sir Robert Peel in the House of Commons whether it was the intention of the Opposition to move an instruction to the committee on the Irish Municipal Bill authorising the total abolition of these corporations; and Sir Robert asked Lord John whether it was intended to introduce a Tithe Bill, and whether it would contain an Appropriation Clause. Lord John thereupon pulled from his despatch box the outlines of the Tithe Bill on which the Cabinet had agreed, and announced his intention of inviting the House, on April 30, to adopt the necessary resolutions embodying it. This conversation proved to everyone that the end was very near. Unfortunately the Conservatives insisted, as a preliminary step, on attempting to expunge from the journals of the House the famous resolution which Lord John had proposed three years before. It was impossible for Lord John to submit to such a demand, and, in a speech of considerable power, which elicited the warm congratulations of Lord Mulgrave, he successfully resisted the attempt. The Conservatives were beaten by 317 votes to 298, and the Government acquired fresh stability from the victory. But, on the other hand, the fact that the Opposition
“You ought to be eternally grateful to Acland, not merely as a Minister, but as an individual, for he gave you an opportunity of making a most admirable speech, which I read with the greatest pleasure.”—Lord Mulgrave to Lord John, May 21, 1838.