13 MARCH 1852, Page 1


ANOTIERR week of musters and preparation, by Ministers and their adversaries. Caution and covered movements are the tactics of both parties.

Seldom has a new Minister been allowed to get all the accept- ants of office under hire back into Parliament so quietly as Lord Derby has. Only two have been threatened with opposition, and one of these is already returned. This, of course, has been owing less to implicit confidence in the Premier and his Cabinet, than to the disruption of the party which has abdicated office and its entire isola- tion from popular sympathy, as well as to the judicious selection of men with manageable constituencies for office. The Ministerial can- didates for reelection have conformed pretty closely to the example of reticence set them by their, chief and probably recommended to their imitation. Most of them have indeed explicitly professed thefr oontinued adhesion to the principle of Protection, but as a ques- tion net to be immediately urged. More than one elaborate pro- test has been registered against the imputation of hostility to moderate and reasonable progress. Altogether, a Tory or Con- servative of the type of the year 1819 would rub his eyes to hear the professions of the official champions of the party so-called in 1852.. Except on the subject of Free-trade, the only Ministerial candidate who has afforded direct provocation to Liberal challenge is Mr. Napier; who emphatically declared his hostility to cheap law; and used some expressions respecting the National system of Education in Ireland that have been eagerly caught at. The future Opposition had its first muster at Lord John Rus- sell's house on Thursday. No authorized version of the pro- ceedings has been published, and some care appears to have been taken to soften as much as possible the accounts that could not be prevented fro in transpiring. of the refractoriness of Messrs. Hume and Duncorabe: One main object of the meeting would seem to have been, to secure the leadership of Opposition for Lord John, y forestalling any attempt on the part of Earl Grey—or may he Lord Palmerston—to assume it. With the two exceptions already named, the assembled forces evinced a disposition to be amenable to discipline. Mr. Villiers referred the fate of his Free- trade motion to the decision of the majority, and Messrs. Bright and Cobden were equally quiescent. Lord. John recommended, with the approbation, he said, of Sir James Graham and Mr. Cob- den, that Free-trade should be the only question immediately urged ; and that even with regard to it, Mr. Villiers should confine himself in the first place to putting a question to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Lord John postpones his Reform Bill, and Sir George Grey abandons his St. Alban's Disfranchisement Bill ; the Corrupt Practices Bill only is to be pressed. No factious opposi- tion is to be offered in the first instance ; but if the answers of Ministers prove unsatisfactory, ulterior steps to compel a dissolu- tion of Parliament will be taken.

The Peel section of the House of Commons gives no overt signs of activity. Out of doors, with the exception of Free-trade meet- ings at Liverpool, Leeds, and Bristol, which have followed closely in the wake of that at Manchester, the general inertness continues undisturbed. The surface of society is scarcely ruffled; but it would be erroneous to infer that weighty interests are not tremb- ling in the balance, or that no anxiety. is felt regarding them. On the score of the great system of commercial policy initiated by Sir Robert Peel, little fear is entertained that the power of the new Government is adequate to more than an' indefinite postponement of the season when its permanent and final esta- blishment shall be recognized on all hands. The element of un- certainty, however,which this procrastination may infuse into industrial enterprise is of itself a grave evil ; and the imperfec- tions of the existing electoral system, as rendering Parliamentary coups d'etat possible, keeps men anxious. Besides, if no more

harm is anticipated from a Derby than from a Russell Ministry, neither, except perhaps in the Law department, is any more

The arrears of improved legislation are likely to go on accumu- lating. The actual position of the country is the reverse of satis- factory_; but in the disorganized state of irreooncileable parties no leaders of commanding character present themselves, and the rival candidates for office, conscious of their want of public confidence, are timid and hesitating in their movements. It is a moment of uni- versal irresolution : men are waiting to be pushed on by events.