23 JANUARY 1841, Page 12


EVERY reader of the daily papers must have perceived that there is some great act contemplated by the Cabinet, which is to set it all right with the people ; but none can be prepared for the change which has taken place in the Ministerial policy. It is difficult to conceive why the fact has not been more distinctly made known in the organs of Downing Street, since it might have had an irresist- ible effect on recent and pending elections : though, to be sure, when it is announced, the present Government will be quite inde- pendent of any half-dozen votes. And we at least have no cause to complain of a singular good fortune, which reserves for the Spec- tator the very unexpected and gratifying task of developing the new Ministerial views, and explaining what it is that the whole Ministerial press is driving at. It has for some time been apparent that Ministers could not get on much longer with the "working majority" of two, despite the exertions of the Irish Swiss in the House of Commons ; and it was impossible that any body of intelligent gentlemen, like the Minis- ters, could be blind to this truth. That they were not blind, was proved by their incalculable exertions to increase the majority of two on every possible occasion, and by every possible means : they winked at Mr. O'CoNsELL's rather irregular crimping of innocent Scotchmen to be Irish Members, and his very odd freaks to keep up the excitement in Ireland ; they specially deputed the Under Secretary of State and a Lord of the Treasury to talk Nonintru- sionism and supersede Parliamentary agents in Perthshire ; they allowed their own Members to vote all sorts of ways, to dissipate the increasing gloom on John Bull's dogged countenance; they even recruited their ranks from the Edinburyh Review, procuring articles to be dated from Windsor Castle instead of Messrs. BLACK'S shop, and adorning the list of the Cabinet with a name no less re- vered and influential than that of THOMAS BanisluTort MACAULAY. But stolid John Bull did not brighten as to his countenance—it was all, if we may be allowed the expression, no go. Some more decisive course was necessary. The MELBOURNE Cabinet have proved equal to the emergency. It is only the truly great who can see the error of their own acts : the MELBOURNE Ministry have seen the error of their acts. Ad- versity is a hard, but an effectual teacher, and it has taught Lord Mnraiotnixe and his colleagues that they must immediately adopt a thorough and total change of policy. They have adopted such a change. But hard necessity has done more for them : it has opened their understandings ; insomuch that the Government have not only adopted a complete reversal of their policy, but also of their very views and opinions. The subject of this momentous alteration has been under keen discussion lately ; and when the Cabinet was assembled ostensibly to deliberate on the minor subject of the Eastern question, we understand, their time was really devoted to matters much nearer home. The approaching assemblage of Parliament, and the opportunity thus afforded for turning over a new leaf, hastened the final decision, which is now to be described. At what precise date that decision was come to, we do not know ; nor is it quite certain that all the details of the proposed measure are definitively settled.

It was in the first place resolved to undertake some large and comprehensive measure of the Reform ; not the " Reform" of 1830-40, which is like what the Irishman called "improvement for the worse," but such actual change for the better as the term is usually taken to imply. It was decided that such reform should be no hustings generality—that trade is exploded—but a sound, comprehensive, practical scheme, strictly in accordance with the

wishes of the people, the spirit of the age, and "the eternal principles of justice." Acting in that enlightened spirit, a draft of the new policy was drawn out in detail : in the first instance, several members of the Cabinet, among whom we have heard par- ticular mention of the Premier, Lord PALMERSTON, Mr. &Rum; and Lord DUNCANNON, prepared separate sketches for the occasion; and then, after mature consideration, and somewhat cautious cur- tailments of plans which might have been thought too much in advance of the age, Mr. MACAULAY was ordered to embody thc whole in a memorandum, which was signed successively by all the Cabinet. That interesting document will be found in the Treasury by the successors of the present Government : it bears testimony that every department of the Government contributed towards the great work. After a preamble, setting forth the considerations which have been described above, the memorandum proceeds to details. The first is worthy to take the lead in a great scheme : it is resolved at once to abolish all the petty technicalities and impertinent difficul- ties which beset the representation of the people ; and to extend the franchise, according to the present lights of most sincere, mo- derate Reformers, to every householder ; with a view, however—so says the memorandum—if that new suffrage do not satisfy the popular wish, and if experience show a greater change to be prac- ticable, of further extending it to "every male who is twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and untainted by crime." It is said that one member— Sir Jowl Honnouss, we believe—was much startled by the additional contingency ; and he observed, that he never was a Chartist, even when he had to get in for Westminster with Sir Faexcis BURDETT : but he yielded to the earnest repre- sentations of Lord MELBOURNE, who declared that the wants and wishes of " the millions" claimed at least a prospective considera- tion.

It was next determined to abandon utterly the specious policy of Open Questions, and especially the great open question of Ballots which is part of the Government scheme. Lord PALMERSTON re- marked, that his character had been much traduced with respect to the sincerity and consistency of his opinions in matters of domestic policy ; and especially he had been misrepresented as approving of the Ballot question being made open as an obstruction to its ad- vancement: he had been perhaps too reserved, and too regardless of the calumniators, whom a word from him in the House would have crushed ; but now he felt it due to himself to make a conces- sion to the just doubts of the English people; and therefore he made it a personal request that he should be allowed to introduce the Ballot measure, possibly as an amendment on Sir James GRA.. nest's next Chinese motion. For he knew the heads of Sir James's forthcoming speech ; and he thought that that speech would serve as well to introduce an amendment of the kind as any thing else. Other Ministers, we hear, who had looked forward to the eclat of moving the Ballot, gave way to Lord PALMERSTON'S superior claim ; and it was ultimately resolved to make the Suffrage and the Ballot go in one measure, with a provision for Triennial (or oftener-if-need-be) Parliaments ; to be introduced by Lord PALMERSTON forthwith.

The next measure is supposed to have been framed by Lord MELBOURNE himself. It was observed, that to bring in any bill for repeal of the Corn-laws, without other changes in the tariff, however desirable, would be futile : it was suggested, therefore, that one grand sweeping scheme should be devised for effecting an entire change in our import system. On so large a proposition no immediate decision could be made, but at all events the whole sub- ject is to be revised without delay. It is in reference to this re- form in particular, that the last number of the Edinburgh Review takes pains to show that "adverse divisions in Parliament are of very little consequence" ; and that the body of landowners are ra- pidly becoming Corn-law Repealers. The Edinburgh Review an- nounces that the change in the Corn-law is to be "a moderate fixed duty." We believe that statement is correct, though too much guarded : the duty recommended by Lord MELBOURNE is a mere registering-duty, or at most a slight revenue-duty, such as will not be burdensome to the industrious classes. But Corn-law Repeal is only a small part of the fiscal change : Mr. M‘Giteuoit's new tariff is likely to be adopted before another budget is produced, with some modifications. Those modifications are indicated by the Review already quoted, which shows that Mr. M`Grascoa's tariff is not sufficiently liberal in sonic particulars. The subject, therefore, is to be instantly investigated by a Commission ; con- sisting, it is rumoured, of Mr. Tuomes DUNCOMBE, Mr. McRae]) Seeir„ and possibly Colonel SIBTHORPE. But no delay will be permitted : the Morning Chronicle of Thursday last announces, that "the change in our system must take place soon—imme- diately."

Ireland has not been forgotten. With a view to immediately tranquillizing the country, and procuring a rapid absorption of English capital—(it would be very desirable if this could be done in time to nourish Ireland's contribution to the revenue next year)—religious differences are first attacked. If we are not mis- informed, the proposed measures are somewhat to this purpose : Tithes, even in the disguise of a rent-charge, are to be entirely abolished, and all compulsory support of Protestant clergy in the three Catholic provinces is to be done away with : on the other hand, a vastly-increased establishment will provide for a much greater number of individual clergymen in the Protestant province of Ulster, which will be permitted to retain church-rates to a large amount. It is expected that this change will practically tend to the great extension of Protestantism. Further, a liberal endow- ment, probably under a different name, will be made to the Catho- lic clergy ; who will thus be deprived of all pretence for agitation. A large hierarchy of Catholic Bishops will be duly appointed. And the bill which Lord EBRINGTON promised to the Ulster Asso- ciation the other day, will be found to contain provisions which that discreet body little look for : the first clause repeals the U121012 ; the next establishes the English, that is Household Suf- frage; the third Ballot ; and, in short, a Parliament in College Green, constituted precisely like that in Palace Yard. If this experiment succeed, there is some talk of imitating it on this side St. George's Channel, and establishing Local Par- liaments, in districts bounded, with numerous exceptions how- ever, by the limits of the ecclesiastical sees. As this will quite supersede Mr. O'Coususix, he is to be offered in compensation his Choice of the new Catholic Archbishopric of Dublin or Speaker- ship of the Irish Lords; and, to do justice to the Orange party, the Viceroyalty is to be given to Lord STANLEY or Lord WiNcsim- sse—whichever gives the best security that he will use his office for the true interests of Ireland.

Scotland is to have a magnificent Church-extension : and it is hoped that the General Assembly, in consideration of a vast acces- sion of ecclesiastical honours, power, and wealth, will assume a correcter position as an establishment. The Dissenters are not only to be put upon Government Chaplaincies and Boards, but are further to receive a permanent grant in aid, on the principle of the education-grants; which the Voluntaries are to be permitted to decline, on the high ground of principle. Not much opposition is expected to this arrangement.

The foregoing are only some of the chief heads of this grand and truly national scheme : a few more must be dismissed with greater brevity. Sir Jona HODHOUSE, who represented that his having done nothing since he has been in office had rather disappointed some, though perhaps not many, of his old friends—and indeed him- self—observed that it would be an excellent thing if he could have something to exhibit now. Accordingly, he is to bring in a bill for "Indian Reform,"—comprising an assimilation of land-tenures to English free and common soccage ; a Parliament in each of the two Presidencies, with a household franchise ; a municipal law similar to the English ; free trade free navigation ; a system of railroads ; and several other things. For East Indian free trade the West Indies are to be compensated by a vast immigration : treaties of migration are to be concluded with the princes throughout South- western Africa, from Morocco to Mozambique ; and two millions of free Africans are to be at once introduced into the West Indies. This it is the real though secret object of the much-censured Niger expedition to effect. All.the Colonies are to be benefited by the immediate establishment in London of a Representative Board, with a directing Council ; at' fhe head -of which will be placed Lord "[omen—who indeed suggested this, as he has all other measures for the advantage of the Colonies, one might almost say during the last half-century. A few minor measures nearer home are—the abolition of all sinecures ; Church-extension, while with respect to Church-rates, Thursday's Chronicle says abolition of the rate "is the point to be aimed at " ; abolition of pensions to pauper Lords; abolition of manorial vassalage, the owners to be compen- sated by titles or other honours; reduction of military and naval expenditure, and increased pay to private soldiers and sailors ; with a multitude of other improvements. Magnificent as this scheme, even from our imperfect sketch, may be seen to be, there is the probability of its receiving a notable addition. It will be introduced into the House of Commons in the form of several simultaneous bills. Should they, or any one of them, be thrown out, there is to be instantly a general election ; after which, they will be introduced again, and carried through "on the shoulders of the People." Then, should the House of Lords prove refractory, Lord MELBOURNE has suggested that he should immediately move a resolution, to the effect that it is desirable to modify the constitution of the House, by making it an elective assembly; and he proposes, if the House evince any disposition to reject that resolution, to carry it by a large creation of Peers. Mr. MACAULAY is said strenuously to have supported the last part of this arrangement ; but Lord MELBOURNE observed, that if the last resource were necessary, it would of course be requisite to introduce none but men of sound intelligence and high standing in the country. Sir JOHN I-loin:Loess warmly assented.

Such is a brief and hasty outline of the great, the noble scheme of national regeneration, upon which the Whig Ministry are about to rest their existence. But they justly demand that the People should take their share in the glorious work : the Ministerial Globe has been instructed to call for "pressure from without"; and it judiciously hints, that unless the People respond to that call, they are not likely to get much— "It so happens, however, that the most important reforms of this kind— those reforms without which all others are a trifle—some [that is, less than the whole] would be an injustice—are certain of obstinate opposition from handed and strongly-organized interests. To meet those interests, we have called for a strong pressure of opinion from without. * * • It cannot justly be imputed to Government as a fault, that they cannot, in the present state of parties, propose, with prospect of success, practical measures which thwart powerful interests, sinless they are strongly backed by opinion. We do not pro- fess to announce the intentions of Government as to this or that measure—as to this or that change in our present anti-commercial tariff. But we will pre- dict, without claiming any extraordinary gift of prescience, that they would not succeed, in the present state of parties, in any comprehensive measure—and really, we regard any other as trifling with our [the Whigs' j present situa- tion—unless the voice of opinion is heard loudly and decidedly in its favour."

These announcements have not been received everywhere with

satisfaction : the Duke of WELLINGTON has issued summonses to his friends ; and the alarming topic will most likely be, if it has not been already, gravely discussed. Lord LYNDHURST may have been the person who suggested, that the Duke of WELLINGTON and Sir ROBERT PEEL should offer some such bargain as that made with respect to the Irish measures ; Sir ROBERT undertaking to stop votes of censure, China or Orange motions, if the new regenera- tion-scheme is abandoned. " Equo ne credite, Teucri " The old Irish PEEL-WELLINGTON " understanding " was followed by STAN- LEY'S Registration Bill. The Whigs now see the futility of play- ing catspaw to the Tories; and Sinon himself; if he were returned for Tamworth, could not induce them to abandon the glorious measure upon which they have perilled their political souls.