10 FEBRUARY 1855, Page 1


Tun " crisis" is over, the Cabinet is reconstructed. It is the ]ate Cabinet over again, with very partial changes. Lord Aber- deen, who had been the object of popular doubt, the Duke of Newcastle, the object of a " dead set," and Lord John Russell, who had lent himself to the Whig movement against " the Peelite section" of the Cabinet, disappear. The vacancies which they occasioned have opened the way for some redistribution of offices, and the Government is settled according to what looks like the general desire. We have to see whether general desire is the best selecter of Ministers.

The crisis of January 1855 differs from many that have pre- -ceded it in the fact, that, notwithstanding the usual reserves, it has virtually been worked out before the public. and the course taken by the Sovereign has not been veiled. We can al- most see the Queen, with one of those folio sheets of bluish printed paper before her—the " Votes and Proceedings of the House of Commons "—casting her eye down the list of the majority in the division of the 23d January, in order to find out for whom she should "send" in the first instance. Her Majesty of course 'knows the distribution of parties in the House of Commons ; and, filling about two-thirds of that list, she would find the followers of her former Prime Minister the Earl of Derby; for whom, there- fore, according to the set rule in such cases, she sent. Lord Derby, however, failed to obtain sufficient support, and he retired. The residue of the majority putatively belonged to Lord John Russell; though he had led it rather by signals, from his post on a back bench, than ostensibly in person. He, then, was the next sent for: but he had not found the back benches a good place for recruiting, and he returned to the seat that he had chosen. He did not state that he was promised the support of a single man of 'his late colleagues. Contrary to the usual precedent, her Majesty was now referred to the other side in the division—the minority : but there she found the leader de facto in the person of Lord Pal- merston, enjoying to a certain extent the confidence of a larger proportion of the whole House than that included even in the majority. Lord Palmerston's commission appears to date from Monday; and on that day the town was full of rumours as 'to the impediments which he encountered, but which he was resolved to overcome, even if he should construct his -Cabinet out of unknown materials. The known materials saved him from that scandalous course: most of the late Ministers agreed to continue in their offices, with some slight change, derogatory to no one of the members who voluntarily took part. It was well understood that Lord Aberdeen desired to be released from office. On public grounds, and in justice, we think, to his reputation in the long run, the Duke of Newcastle had likewise determined to retire from official service, though not from the service of the country. Lord John Russell is ad- mitted to have excluded himself from office ; and the resem- blanee which we pointed out in his position to that of his Majesty of Prussia has been recognized in the most popular man- ner. These three Ministers constitute the only secessions from the late Government. Lord Aberdeen's place is filled by Lord Palmerston—nothing loth. The Duke of Newcastle's place is undertaken by Lord Panmure; who has had experience in the administration of the War department, and has shown by the -advice which he gave to Lord John Russell that he can profit by the experience of the late Ministry. He absorbs into the larger office that of Secretary at War. Sir George Grey is transferred to the Home Office, and Mr. Sidney Herbert goes to the Colonial Department The last arrangement is as promising as any of the others. Mr. Herbert has shown qualifications as an adminis-

trator, a debater, and a statesman, this session, which exceeded the previous high estimate of his powers ; and the elevated feeling which he has imported into public business is always valued by the Colonies. Mr. Gladstone remains in the care of the Budget; and Lord Clarendon will still occupy his position as Minister of England in that correspondence with Austria and France which has assumed a character of such importance.

In the course of the crisis more than one irritating question has been settled, more than one show of resistance has been disarmed. The fragmentary question of consolidating the War departments, raised by Lord John Russell, is closed. The question of the War administration in its recent phase is closed. The question whe- ther, during a war, Lord Derby could muster a Ministry, has been put to the test. The question whether the Whigs could not recover the exclusive possession of office, is answered by the reinstatement of the Coalition, with the exclusion of the Whig leader. The restless desire for some new Premier has been satisfied. It is to be confidently expected, from Lord Palmer- ston's character and antecedents, that his accession to the chief post—so gratifying to his ambition, so stimulating to his inven- tive activity—will give a fillip to the war, both on paper and on the field. The closing of so many cross questions is calculated at once to allay false hopes in any party sections, and to concen- trate the attention of Parliament on the main business of the day. We do not know whether the reconstructed Cabinet has received such an increase of administrative strength as to secure all that is desirable. Still less do we know whether Lord Palmerston is really strong enough for the tremendous task which is before him. But few men have undertaken to head a Cabinet, at a time of so much importance, with so many promises of support.