3 MARCH 1855, Page 1


THE Government is reconstituted, and Lord John Russell again makes his appearance in the Cabinet—as Secretary of State for the Colonies. This last of Lord John's new surprises for his beloved countrymen is the event of the week, paling the inef- fectual fire of the renovated Cabinet by its flash. It is impossible to reckon the more than eccentric orbit of the Whig statesman ; his reappearances startle even those who are hardened against sur- prise. In the space of one little month, we have seen him pre- siding over the Cabinet Council—then on a back bench of the Commons, far from office as " remotest Ind "—on his way to Vienna, plenipotentiary-and while still there, here he is again in the Cabinet, for the unconscious and uneonsulted Colonies ! After some vicissitude, the rest of the Ministers have shaken down into their places ; and, with no appreciable exception, the Government must be said to be devoid of newness—to be indeed less new than the late Government. Besides the vacancies which have been occasioned by the retirement of the gentlemen whose popular poli- tical distinction has been their attachment to Sir Robert Peel and his national policy, there have been others occasioned by shiftings within the residuary Cabinet, and the ultimate result is presented in this form.

Late Minister. Present Minister.

Finance Mr. Gladstone f Sir George Comewall

1 Lewis. Colonies Mr. Sidney Herbert .. Lord John RusselL Admiralty Sir James Graham.... Sir Charles Wood. India Sir Charles Wood .... Mr. Vernon Smith.

Trade. Mr. Cardwell. Lord Stanley of Al-


Ireland Lord St. Germans .... Lord Carlisle.

There has been much talk, almost ad nauseam, about the impor- tation of " new blood " • but if any attempts of this kind have been made—and they rest almost upon rumour—it has been in the sub- ordinate offices, whose occupants exercise no freedom of speech, and do not give tone to the complexion of the Cabinet, but take orders from the political heads. Even here the novelties are not new : Mr William Cowper is only transferred from one post to another; Mr. Horsman, now Secretary for Ireland, was formerly in the Treasury; Sir Robert Peel has been talked of, Mr. Laing and Mr. Monokton Mikes are said to have declined office, and Mr. Layard certainly has done so. Any effort to introduce "new blood," therefore; has been unsuccessful, and has been limited to those strata of the Government where it could have been of little present use. In the upper strata we have gone back to the days before Aberdeen, yea and Derby, even to the earlier days of the previous Russell Ministry. The sole resemblance to a novelty is the introduction of Sir George Lewis ; who had, however, already been Financial Secretary to the Treasury. The peculiar work that Lord John Russell might have done in the Colonies in developing their constitutional system has been fmished by his later prede- cessors; but, of course, although sitting for the Colonies in name, he now takes his seat more with reference to English and Conti- nental than Colonial affairs. Instead of "new blood" in a class, it does not come even in an, individual form, for the men are vete- rans—the remains of the oldest Whig Ministries alive. It might be called the Cabinet of Oldest Inhabitants.

There is no fair ground of serious complaint on this score, how- ever, unless we probe political, questions much deeper than any class perhaps is at present prepared to search. Lord Palmerston necessarily looked for political aid from those men willing to give it, by position as well as capacity, at the present moment. It was a case of desperation. He had to make up a Cabinet ; and, accordingly, he selected those men of mark who were not pledged to the opposite party, who could come to some agreement amongst themselves, and who would not refuse,—a limited range ! It might indeed have been more consistent if Lord Palmerston, strongly disapproving of inquiry by the House of Commons, and voting against the motion which produced the crisis, had left the Government to Lord Derby, who possessed the strongest party,—a party professedly approving of the inquiry,—and had given up to the Ministry so formed that support which any Government for the time being might claim in the presence of a great and perilous war. Having overlooked, perhaps, his precise line of duty during the crisis, Lord Palmerston now shows no disposition to relinquish that line which he happens to have kept; and his conduct since the reassembling of Parliament has not been calculated to strength- en his half-accidental position. Though he spoke and voted against the appointment of the Committee, which hung over any Mi- nistry not strong enough to put it aside, he lacked the reso- lution to stand by his own conviction. He yielded to pressure, and confessed a willingness to make any concession for the purpose, of retaining office. This yielding always has been an invitation to the Opposition, both on the left hand of the Speaker and below the gangway on the right, to exercise the fatal "pressure from without," long familiar to Whig statesmen. That very structure of the Palmerston Cabinet, and the circumstances of its formation, suggest the question, will it last ? The question might be an- swered when we have the results of the Vienna Conference, and after that, perhaps, the result of the impression made by all these transactions upon the public of this country. That it has already occurred at head-quarters, is indicated by some hints that Parlia- ment might be dissolved. Possibly the whisper of such a threat, in a House where many Members must be more uncertain of their seats than Ministers themselves, may have the effect of superseding the necessity for a dissolution—may tame recalcitrant Members; but if not, undoubtedly Lord Palmerston is the man to keep his own place, rather than to keep the present House of Commons, if the chances from a dissolution should appear to be equal to the risk.