A PECULIARITY IN THE RECENT EXERCISE OF THE ROYAL PREROGATIVE.
Sift—The recent change of Ministry, the manner in which that change was brought about, and above all, the present state of the Execu- tive Administration, are events so extraordinary, mark so clearly the point we have reached in the progress of our civil contests, and afford so plain an intimation of the temper and taaics in which that part of the struggle will be conducted which still awaits us, that they cannot be too carefully weighed or too maturely considered in all their bearings and attendant circumstances. There are very few examples in the his- tory of any country, where so vivid a sign of the time has been vouch- safed to the contemporary age—such a glare of light thrown on the ac- tual circumstances and position of a people. But of what u-e is a beacon, if we only see its blaze in the retrospect ?
The history of the successive Administrations which have swayed the councils of this realm during the last twelve months, is without parallel. While they lost the esteem of the nation, they grew in favour with the Court ; when the People trusted them, they fell. Divided on es-cry imminent question of state and legislation, they were strong ; the moment of their unanimity was the moment of their dissolution. As long as these Cabinets contained the-Anti-Ecclesiastical Reform principle, as long as bigotry neutralized their best councils and the ad- herents of the Irish hierarchy poisoned every measure of civil remedy, they concentrated the rays of Court favour, and shone in all the lustre of Royal approbation. They work off the noxious taint ; the day of ex- pedients is past ; they are on the eve of reestablishing a firm Govern- ment un the basis of public opinion: when they are hurled from power, with a precipitation of which there is no example in our history. The People behold, with amazement, the fall of the Ministers in the very net of throwing off the shackles which had rendered them power- less for all good. 'f he sudden change in the prospects of the nation, the return of arbitrary government, the reinstaltnent of piiestly power, are truths melancholy indeed and weighty ; but they are neither the most important, nor the most alarming portion of our receut history. Had the overthrow of Lord MErnotrasie's Government occurred in those vicissitudes of party contests, by which the rise and fall of Ad- ministrations is promoted as a part, and no small part, of the healthy action of a free state, though we might deplore the consequences of the change, there would have been nothing unusual in the event itself: but it is the manner in which the late change has been brought about, the temper and spirit evinced by the parties to it, which give to this event all its significance, both as a sign of the present and a prognostic of the future. To this let the People look ; it is this which most nearly concerns them in the present juncture. There are features both of cunnieg and violence in the recent transaction, resembling more nearly the kind of tactics by which the sudden and dangerous fluctua- tions of a barbarous monarchy are produced, than the regulated move- ments and measured changes of a civil and popular state. The whole power of the state, the affairs of this great and free community, are transferred in a moment from one Minister to another of diametrically opposite maxims of policy, without note or preparation—with no osten- sible cause, by a movement as occult and precipitate as a counter. ..revolution hatched in the Seraglio. Events involving the fortunes of the empire, have succeeded each other with a rapid ty mei& Repo ri in its an_ nals, l'he sudden dissolution of the Cabinet, the instaut seizure of the whole power of the State by one man, above all, the de ea laid scheme to gam tone—time to see bow far it is possible to go with safety in this vio. lent cour:e, time for the People to gtow familiar with the idea of a Tory Government. time to lull the vigilance of the Nation, to steal on their in- active suspense—all this is strange, new, and exceedingly unlike the usiiiiIcourse of public affimirsin this country. This is not the oidinary working of the Constitution. These are act the modes in which power is either lost or acquired under a mixed monarchy. They are tien.her consonant to the spirit of the constitution nor agreeable to the genius of the people. They ore incompatible with a Parliamentary
Goverment.. Tranquillity, it is said, reigns : agita ion bespeaks a present crisis. Then has their plot • succeeded in it: vital part !- Without i.ractising on the sense • of the Nation, all this vigour and•
violence would have been dangerous. The abuse of the public • mind was the capital part of the plot. An attempt on po ver by the Tories, unsupported by an opiate delusion of the Peop'e, would . have been their swift destruction. To prepure a state of doubt—to in- duce irresolution—to hold the Natiou'in uncertaility—to diffus • the in- action of suspense—this wims their game, time essence of their milky, . their only chance of success. It was the retitled part of their a:lime to enslave our understandings, to fix their yoke on our minds. If we remain longer in our present state—if we do not burst the spell of that suspense at hit-h now paralyzes our understandings—if we do not shake off the doubts which hold us• in inactivity—if we view in the present rulers of this country any thing other than the determined and atm re- lenting enemies of civil and religious liberty, time will have hardened and consolidate:I their domination, and their yoke may gall our necks for:anotherlmall-century.- It is true, the final ascendancy of Liberal men is - certuin ; but if time present system of delusion I:e continued, as continued it will .surely be, how long may this n-suit be deferred, and through what unknown difficulties will it be reached ? Through the breaking out of the old diseases of the state—through the separation of the dif- ferent classes of society from each other—through the derangement of the operations on which the trade and prospemity of the state depend, and through the imminent hazard of that conflict of opinion Do long foretold and feared.
But from what quarter has this disaster burst upon the People? By what hand has this revolution in the Executive Administration of the country, the most abrupt and precipitate in our annals, been effected? The late Ministry were not drivers from their places by the violence of faction : no Parliamentary defeat preceded their fall. Far otherwise. In the strength of their union, without .note or preparation, by an ex- traordinary interposition of the Chief Magistrate, the affairs of the People are suddenly and violently wrested from those bands to which they had been coimfided. The expulsion of the Liberal Ministers wu the personal act of the Sovereign ; the change in the whole .prospects of the Nation has proceeded from the Chief Magistrate individually ; and the crisis which now overcasts the destinies of England has lowered upon it directly from the Court. Let this be well marked. The present is an extraordinary crisis. It is important that the People should know exactly the position in which they stand ; above all, that their eyes should be fixed on every thing unusual or unprecedented in their present condition. Alark the tone in which the Oligarchy vaunt this act of executive magistracy ! They admit that it was not the result of any of those causes which usually precede changes of Administration : they admit that it proa ceeded from the personal authority of the Sovereign, whose will, they add, is absolute—unquestienable! I stop not to inquire how far arbitrary prin- ciples enter into the British Constitution, or are congenial with the spirit and design of that Legislative Government under which we now live. But what season have the councillors chosen for making the experiment of Prerogative Government? What state of public affairs have they in their wisdom selected for dragging into light the relics of arbitrary power still reposing in the Chief Magistrate of this island, and forcing on the eyes and senses of men a part of the Constitution which they have no wish to disturb, so long as it is not offensive ? Is the present a sky or temperament in which it is safe to stir these rank remains? Already their alluvia pollute the heated atmosphere and stink in our nostrils. Is the Representative Council of this nation still the instru- ment of the Aristocracy ? Is our Government still an Oligarchy dis- guised by popular institutions ? Is it a juncture for opposing the per- sonal authorities and naked will of any single man to the sense of the community, when the central mass of the nation are the masters of the.. state.—when the popular part of the Legislature speaks with the voice. of millions, and the opinion of the People, issuing through that fumble organ, snikes with irresistible might on Cabin-t and Executive ? Is it a time to rake up die ashes of kingly prerogative, when, through the vastness of the legislative questions which HOW agitate the Great Council of the nation, the whole frame of society is rent by political divisions? ■I'lien the main body of the notion is affirmost torn asunder, in the struggle to upheave those enormous structures of civiland eccle- siastif-al tirimii7, rooted in the corruption of ages,—stru..tures so com- bined with the interests and mixed with the manners of the People, that their subversion rouses passions and interests against each other in mass, and threatens almost to break up that framework of society. in which they are inwronght ? When the differences of political opinion are no longer, like the parties under the old Borough Aristocracy, a petty scuffle for power among a few, but a mighty schism running through the main trunk of society ? when the first very great breach in the Bri- tish community, the separation of the lower from the higher orders has hardly been stayed ; and the great question, coming home to the hearts of the whole population, has at length been proclaimed, whether government be an institution for the good of the whole, or a des-tee for supporting a small part above the rest in power and emolumnent ? In one word, when even the lenient hand of concession is no longer sufficient to heal the distempers of the State, and nothing short ot a total change in the genius and spirit of the Government—flowing from the recognition of very different moral principles, as to the end and aim of civil institutions, from those which have hitherto prevailed iii Ihts realm—can prevent the rupture from becoming incurable : is this a time to Pour the cancerous humour of prerogative into the breach?