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WHAT IS LORD DERBY'S GOVERNMENT WITHOUT PROTECTION London, 2d April 1852.
Sin—What is Lord Derby's Ministry without Protection ? The country has now a right to ask that question, for in truth the verdict has been al- ready given upon the issue raised by the pending appeal to the country. The pretence of a Protectionist policy dies away by degrees, fainter and fainter still, into inarticulate murmurs. Government candidates openly re- nounce the title of Protectionists. It would be idle therefore to defer longer proposing the question and calling for a reply. Lord Derby's first language was that of a man surprised into a post of me expected responsibility. "Give me a fair trial ; wait patiently till you see any measures." Barring a few hostile demonstrations from the ousted Whigs —which are supposed to have been quieted by the more generous spirit of the Peelites—the House of Commons has shown to the new Government un- exampled forbearance. The Estimates have been voted without a di- vision or debate. Trusting to Lord Derby's honourable engagement to lose no time in putting an end to the session, (an engagement on which painful suspicion has been since thrown,) all parties have suspended arms, to give the new Government fair play. They asked for time to show what they meant to do. Time has been granted, but we have waited night after night for signs of the promised demonstration, said have waited in vain.
Amidst the blank waste of the Ministerial desert a single oasis has appeared: Mr. Walpole's dfibfit seems to promise him a career, if he can be better mated. His Militia Bill is creditable enough, though quite unde- serving of place amongst measures whereby to test a Ministry. But with this exception, what shall be said ? If it be too early to ask for matured measures, ample time has been given for some indications of future policy. If we do not demand ripe fruit, we may at least seek for buds and blossoms.
Lord Derby himself, having expended his rhetoric in a few showy speeches, contents himself with mysterious silence as to the future, whilst he betrays a vacillating and unsteady band—want-of fixedness of purpose or definiteness _of aim. He yaws about upon the dissolution question. Ha appeals to Par- liament for time to enable him to bring forward measures. 'lime is given —or taken—but nothing is forthcoming. He is yet seeking a policy. Lord St. Leonardo, reat in reputation as a lawyer, and excellent as a judge, seems likely ado his party little service in the Senate. He gives no sign of legal statesmanship. His announcement of adhesion to Chancery Reform was received rather with agreeable surprise ; though the execution of the recommendations of the Chancery Commissioners can be no more than mere ministerial work, by whomsoever done. But there are other stirring questions of Law Reform,—such, for instance as Common Law, Registration, and Real Property, upon which Lord St. instance, as yet gives no indication of his purpose ; indeed, he seems to endeavour to divert atten- tion from these large questions by cobbling in a small way, and not very skilfully, the holes in the Wills Act.
In the Commons Mr. Disraeli leads the House and represents the Govern-
ment with less of Commons, I had almost said of propriety, than any of his predecessors in that great position. He continues to exhibit there the same qualities of smartness and sarcastic power which placed him there, and which eminently unfit him for it. Mr. Walpole stands by his side in fa- vourable contrast, and doubtless all parties in the House would gladly see an exchange of places between them. Of the individual who bears on his shoulders our Colonial empire, it is im- possible to say more than that he has not as yet disappointed the little expec- tation first formed of him. Already great and notable questions have passed before him, affording opportunities at least, which a statesman would have grasped at ; but Sir John PakingtOn's mind is yet in a virgin state, and is to receive its first impressions. He has not formed any definite views on the ques- tion of Transportation : he is silent as to the past and future policy of our Cape government, or the means for preventing Caffre wars or easing this country of that burden. Her Majesty's Speech from the Throne promised a oamd- tution to New Zealand ; but Sir John Pakington has yet to learn the rudi- ments of that lesson. "it is very hard," say the partisans of Government, "so to press a new man." No doubt, Sir John Pakiugton's reticence upon all these pressing Colonial questions is pardonable : the country pardons him as it would a child who has not had time to learn its lesson. But it is un- pardonable that such a man should be Colonial Minister.
And so with all the rest, perhaps, with the exception of Mr. Walpole. If this be so, what answer can be made to the question proposed, What is Lord Derby's Ministry without Protection ? What excuse is there to the country for sueh a Cabinet ;presuming to administer public affairs without a policy, without measures, and so feebly and incapably composed ?
Two answers are sometimes suggested. Lord Derby's party is said to be the Country party—the party of the landed interest. But with the aban- donment of Protection the pretence of such a party becomes a mere sham. Some practical measures, indeed, for benefiting the landed interest are before the public : for instance, a change in the law for regulating the transfer Of land, which by rendering it more marketable would greatly enhance its value and compensate fourfold the loss of protection. But Lord St. Leonardo is a pledged enemy of that branch of Law Reform. Again, the management of County affairs is open to great improvement, to the solid relief of county ratepayers. But is a Ministry of country gentlemen—the county oligarchy —the hand at which to expect such a boon ? Or can it be pleaded for Lord Derby that his is the Ministry of the Con- servative party ? Nay, on the contrary, is not such an usurpation treason to Conservatism itself, as narrowing its limits to an exclusive and incapable section, and throwing into neutral if not opposite ranks the real ability and strength of that party ?
But if this be so, again I repeat, What is Lord Derby's Ministry without