NEWS OF THE WEEK.
'THE political event of the week is Lord JOHN RUSSELL'S address to his London constituents. Till now he was the only one of the
Representatives of the City who had not in that shape returned thanks to the electors; and much have the citizens been taunted for the slight put upon them by their official Member. The retirement of Minto has allowed Lord JOHN to reflect upon his lack of cour- tesy; and possibly he may have desired to unburden his conscience before the opening of the honeymoon—to prevent his bridal hours from being haunted by the reproachful ghosts of JOHN TRAVERS
anti SAMUEL JONES Lova. At all events, an address has been issued, bearing date the day before the wedding: Lord Jose has duly paid the debt of an address to the City on the last day of his -paying his addresses to the lady. Nay, he has even turned his delay -to account : he tells his clients that he purposely postponed his -address until he saw the result of the General Elvtion ; and now be has made it comprise an announcement of what her Majesty's -Ministers will do on the meeting of Parliament, and afterwards as her Majesty's Opposition. As Ministers, they will without delay submit their present policy- to the test of a vote in the new House of Commons, contemplating retirement in con- sequence. That portion which develops Lord Jose's ulterior in- tention will disappoint those who expect a rampant Opposition, • merely recoiling the better to spriog forward in a furious onslaught to drive the Tories from the scarcely-occupied Treasury bench. Lord- Joint indicates no such formidable- purpose : he takes his stand* on aregular, old-fashioned, " contitutional opposition." There is some discretion and more necessity in that choice. For a strong _policy in opposition, there must be strong grounds ; and those who use it must have a firm footing on those grounds. What the grotinds of resistance to Sir Rosetta- PEEL'S policy may be, must as yet be matter of surmise, since it is the crying reproach to Sir
ROBERT that he has told no one what his policy s. But if it be ass-tuned that there are the most forcible reasons for opposition, it remains to be considered from what point d'appui the Whigs can offer it. They have had the management of the national affairs -during a decade of years ; for the "state of the country," whatever that is, they are the responsible party; and that salient point of opposition, therefore, with all the incidental openings for attack, is cut off. If they seize on any disastrous aspect of things to build a complaint upon,—the deficiency, the embarrassed state of foreign affairs, the increased military expenditure, the continued advance of the general expenditure,—they do but aim a dying blow at themselves : the answer is ready, "You condemn the re- sult of your own acts." If they take active steps to punish the new Ministry for past delays and imperfections in great measures of improvement, the retort is fair, that they could hardly blame the Tories out of place for obstructing measures in which the official framers had so little faith as to be ever ready to abandon them on any show of opposition. On those strong points the Whigs have silenced themselves : there may be a ground for opposition, but they cannot occupy it. Lord Jourt, therefore, is content to fall back upon the stock materials for war- fare of a Whig party out of place—" principles" of Civil and Reli- gious Liberty, and Free Trade. Those, he says, are "so inse- parably connected with the progress of society, that they must finally prevail. And here too is matter for consolation,—Lord JOHN shows that the Whigs are almost as potent "out of power" as they are "in power": the repeal of the Test Act and Catholic Emancipation was forced from the Tories by the Whigs out of power' in power, they carried the Reform Bill, Slavery Abolition, and Municipal Reform. For the greatest of these measures, how-
ever, the Reform Bill, they did almost as much before they attained power as they did afterwards in the mere technical consummation -of their policy, so far as it went : it belongs, therefore, to either category of Whig deeds. Hence it is to be deduced that the Whigs are no more inefficient when out of power than they are in ; that is, they have as much " power" out of office as in it. The great difference is to the placemen : Whigs in office can give and -qtjoy more than Whigs out. Lord Jolts RUSSELL, then, is to be no instrument in the sum- mary ejectment of Sir ROBERT PEEL: the anticipated " weakness" of the Conservative Ministry—the embarrassed rule of the Tam- worth Tory-Whig and his Torified Whig allies—offer no tempta-
tion to Lord JOHN'S vaulting ambition. Gratitude as well as pru- dence may have dictated the more moderate course : the Whigs are to return past favours in kind. Sir ROBERT PEEL'S forbearance is to be emulated by his generous rival, who will afford the same sort of help, negative or positive, which he received. Lord JOHN'S programme of the drama seems to contemplate as long an act of the same considerate combating as that which has just closed. There will perhaps be little difference to the public. Newspaper- reporters and compositors will be most concerned in the change ; as it may cause them some trouble at first to begin the speeches of
the leader of the House of Commons with " Sir R. Peel" instead of " Lord J. Russell", and to remember in the course of the chief Oppositionist's speech to call him "the noble lord" instead of " the right hon. baronet." However, they will have plenty of time for practice in learning the knack.
Lord Jotnt does not promise any very startling demonstration for a repeal of the Corn-laws : he hints at continued " perseve- rance," and at the assertion of" great principles," and recommends the " watching of minute details"; but there is not a word of any practical measure, except such as the Tories, perhaps, may not refuse to accept and carry. Lord Jour./ knows that the waxing Anti-Corn-law majority in this Parliament can do no more than pave the way for greater progress in the next, and that is a work of time. The Budget is handed over to the Conservatives to do the best they can with, while the Whigs talk about "great principles" and "watch minute details."
There is another omission in Lord JOHN'S manifesto, not more surprising, but more glaring. He sums up, with all the coolness of a general who knows that he is hopelessly beaten, the amount of
loss,-with a modicum of victory to grace the despatch: "in the English cities and boroughs there is a small majority in our favour;
in the Scotch cities and borougbs, a very decisive majority the same way ; in the Trish boroughs and couDties, there is also a ma- jority in favour of the policy of the present Ministers ; in the Sjotch counties, the majority will be the other way; and in the English counties, that majority will be overwhelming." The policy of Ministers is of course the policy which they think best for the country : the constituencies of the counties, with the suspicious help of Lord CHANDOS, they framed so as to produce the present result : vet there is not a word of any" Reform of the Reform Bill." Lord Joss fears the trouble, or perhaps the ridicule, of any such pretence.
It is amusing to see the alarm with which a phrase in Lord JOHN'S manifesto has filled the Tories : he says, " As soon as the
new Parliament meets, we shall take the first opportunity of asking for a clear and decided judgment upon the policy we have pro- posed." Certainly the terms of the announcement are a little equivocal. The "first opportunity" would be the vote on the Address; but for the Address to involve any judgment upon the question, there must be something in the Speech to call it forth ; and surely gentlemen so discreet and gallant as Ministers, headed too by a bridegroom, would not submit a Royal lady to any rebuff so rude as the majority of 80 might give to any overture of the kind. The Address, therefore, cannot be the " first opportunity" meant by Lord Joss; he must contemplate some future beyond that, and some substantive motion. Yet again, it were rather a strange course to volunteer a new discussion on the Budget policy, when, as he says himself, "the result of such an appeal may now be easily foreseen." Its only result, indeed, would be to exasperate the expression of the majority's innate hostility to Free Trade. The Tories suspect that Lord JOHN'S sole object is to avoid going out for another quarter! and they are shocked to think that they have not got rid of the Whigs even yet. But after all, it is unrea- sonable to found much upon the turn of Lord JOHN'S literary com- position.