Optutottd of ibc t9rt114.
CATCHING AT STRAWS.
MORNING Posr—Our columns of this day present a cheering and heart- stirring proof of the existence of strong constitutional feeling!, in the most MI- portant manufacturing district of the rnited Kingdom. 'fhe report of the annual meeting of the South Lancashire Conservative Association, at Newton, will be perused by our readers with proud satisfaction; and we indulge in no ordinary sensstions of delight and triumph, to find that the expectation that hail been formed of the manner with which this truly natioual festival would be recei eel by our brethren of the North, has been more than realized. The assemblage was as enthusitetic as it was numerous, and was distinguished by its respectability, wealth, and intelligence. Every individual was actuated by the conviction that at no period was it ever more inoperative than at the present moment to evince the most untlincin;e determination to uphold the principles which bare contri- buted to raise our country to the first position in the rank of nations. •
We derive every consolation from the fact that there are 'flit thousands of such men left in the country as those who assembled at the Newton meeting,—male
of tine same stern stuff in honesty, of similar inflexibility of porpese, and elidowed with all the faculties of mind as well as the physical qualifications necessary to fight the battles of loyalty against agitation.
WHAT IS THE DUTY OF MINISTERS?
Coe RIER—We copy from the Spectator an article commenting on some re- marks of ours, and to which we are obliged to offer rather an explanation thane reply. To begin with the conclusion of our contemporary's criticism, we can assure him that our article used not inspire him with any alarm as to what he may expect from the Alinisters. 'Whatever may be its indications they afford not the bast elite to the intentions of Ministers. We stated what in the procat circumstances we supp, sed to he their duty, in relation to the country, but as have received WI ii.-[.ructions. and make no pretence to expound on thieeccasion their views and wishes. On their honesty there cannot he from our remarks toe shadow of an imputation cast, and they will not deserve the epithet of tem- porizers, though they should not introduce many of the measures which our contemporary demande. The Spectator says, and this seems to go to the rout of the matter in dispute, "the Courier seems to have exceedingly vague no- tions as to what the fluty of Ministers should he." We do not deny this; but we can scarcely consider it worthy of reproach to admit an ignorance from which we believe our contemporary is not exempt. Our dispute is, in fact, a proof that the question of what are the duties of Ministers is not settled. The Idea we have of the duty of Ministers is, that they arc by office and by oath Conservatives of the institutions of the country : that has been in past times their great duty. But the present Ministers, as we have already stated mere than once, are placed in this peculiar and novel situation, that, while they pre- serve, they are pledged and bound, by the principle which forced them into
power, to reform cur institutions. It is this peculianity and novelty in their situation which enhances their difficulties, and makes it, en their parts, especially neceseary to be slow annul cautious. They are witlicut any precise rule to guide them. It ie this peculimity tote which gives that semblance of contradiction to our remarks, which our con- temporary has noticed ; for though it is unquestionable on general principle, that the duties of the Ministers of the Crown in the Houses of Par-
liament are as circumscribed as we stated, the present M' ters having born carried into power not more by the wish of the Crown than by the overruling necessity of obtaining reform, have abo been compelled to bring forward those various measures with which our contemporary ems, upon our principle, the Ministers did wrong to meddle. We stated the naked general principle; our contemporary lolls only at the circumstance which modifies the duties of Ministers, and makes their situation peculiar. Should, then, either the neces- sity for continual reform, or the conservative ninny of Ministers, as such, guide their conduct? If we are wrong on one side, in answering this quest on, our contemporary is as much wrong on the other in overlooking their duty, and insisting on Alinieters acting only with reference to the peculiar, and perhaps not permanent disposition of the people, which placed them in their present situation. The conflict between their duty as preservers of the national snsti- tutions, and the necessity to reform those institutions, ought, we should. think, to satisfy our reflecting contemporary, that to form clear and defiuite 'leas of what is the duty of Ministers, in all cases, is lot very easy, and it is no art subject of censure in any writer, if he do not adopt the ready cut and dried notions of those who can at once prescribe not only what will
satisfy the innumerable diversities of public opinion, but be certain to promote the national welfare. The question, however, of what is the duty of Ministers, is one of great importance, being the question, in fact, what are the exact booms to the functions of Government? and if we enter upon such a subject, Ir
because we are convinced that it is only by grappling with it, as well as eater
t miler subjects, that the upper elate s can [nester the coaling political ehangee, and preserve their relative situitiou in advance of the rest of society. The
feudal Heron has reseed away ; the cowled mouk has almost everywhere in Eampe sunk into oblieion ; and why should the nobleman or the prelate of the present day flatter himself that his eupetiority is never to be dimiuished, and his
rower is never to decay ? It is the complaint of many writers that democracy fast gaining the upper hand, and, if that be the ease, it is time that those questions on which the superiority of the upper classes is founded, and justified, should become familiar objects of their study. Those who comprehend these questions best, who know most about the ra-ural laws on which all govern- ment and all society are founded, whether they be called nobles or prelates, must necessarily take the lead, and become the upper classes ; and, therefore, re may be excused for calling their attention, in conjunction with the ques • Lion which has been raised as to the duty of Ministers, to the boundaries of the functions of government. As fur as we know, Mr. Bentham is that mo- dern author who has most elaborately entered into the subjec: ; but it would not be difficult for us to show that in his details he frequently, indeed we may Sly continually., contradicts his own principles. Mr. Maccullocg too, if we recollect correctly, has some excellent remarks on this question, but they are too strictly limited to a few points of political economy to allow us to say that he has precisely fixed, in all cases, the boundaries of the duties of government. The practice is obviously as imperfect as the theory—for one government, as that of Prussia, interferes with the cultivation of the land, directing its subjects what they are to sow, while another, as that of England, leaves even the mak- ing merle and canals, and o, course the great meats of keeping up communica- tion with different parte of its own dominions, to the care of individual's. If 710 modern theory has settled the point, and if modern practice throws as little etemly light on it as modern theory, it will be quite in vain to seek fer sey rules either in the theories or the practices of the ancients. It is quite clear that the in inciplee on which cloth can be wove or ships navigated, must have been much the same in the time of the Romans as now ; but the principles on which • suwiety must at present be governed—when, for one example, slaves are no longer in existence, and when, fur another, paper money is the common medium of exchange—are not the same as in the time of Justinian or Aristotle. It would he far more rational, therefore, to seek in the writings of the Roman or Greek mathematicians for directions how to construct steam-ships or powerdoome, than to seek in the political writings of the ancients for the rules of government. Without taking much trouble, we might, from every journal of the day, borrow articles to. illustrate the statement that no accurate beau& are set by any political writer to the functions of government. One, fur ex umple, condemns our Ministers, because the Tories have just awakened to a some of their situation, as if it were the duty of a Government to preserve the upper classes for ever in blissful ignorance of the changes which must come to pass. Another is wrathful against Ministers, because the Turkish empire is gone to decay, and the Russian empire is grown in power and strength ; as if it were the business of any one government to determine the relative power at all tines of all other nations. A third utters angry reproaches against the Chan- eviler of the Exchequer, because be did not guide the House of Commons as a steersman does a ship, and did not keep the Members under discipline as a cap. ton does his crew. We should have no difficulty in multiplying instances from every journal of the empire, from the speeches of every man who opens his mouth in public or in Parliament, to show that universally the idea of what are the bounds of the functions of government—what are the duties of the Legis- liture considered as independent of the Executive, and what are the duties of the Ministers—are vague and indeterminate; but we close with the last iustanse, which being quoted from the Times, may show the Spectator that some of our coutemporaries who wish the Ministers to govern the Houseof Commons, are not oheeure ephemeral journals. As our contemporary has such accurate notions on this sult't he will tell us what are the precise duties of Ministers in relation to two 4ec subjects which now interest the public. There is one class of writers who demand that Ministers should organize the press as an army, bestowing Colonelcies, Generalships, and Marshals Staffs on the best and most clever .writers; another class requires the abolition of the stamp-duties, and that the Tress should be set quite at liberty. Can any man say off hand what Ministers ought precisely to do on this important subject ? Betwixt the masters and the journeymen, betwixt capitalists and labourers, there is now a violent dispute ; one class of persons condemns the Ministers for having some time ago assisted the master coopers to overcome the journeymen coopers, while another class ,insist upon the Government interfering to give strength and power to the musters. What is the duty of Ministers? Every man will answer according to his position in society and inclination ; and if our ideas differ from those of the Spectator, they are probably not less different from the ideas of every master and every journeyman. We close by repeating our former assertion, that there are far more difficulties about this important question—the duties of Ministers— than our lively aud sanguine contemporary has anticipated.
TINIES—it has been stupidly or ancandidly asserted that we have argued for the subjection of the House of Commons to the control of Minister,. It is im- possible to conceive any thing more opposite to the spirit and purport of our rediarks than this monstrous proposition: the only control to which we desired the representatives of the people to submit themselves is the control of sonic modesty and common sense. A little modesty would forbid much babble with which the patience of the public and the time of the House have been exhausted, curl common sense would show the necessity of observing some order in the conduct of public business, and the prudence of doing one thing with undivid, d attention before attempting another. So far were we from holding the slavish language imputed to us, that in our review of the session we reprobated the ob- sequiousness of the House of Commons, and protested against the new reading of the constitution as composed of King, Lords, and Althorp. A leader or manager of the Majority has been customary, as formerly there used also to be a leader or manager of the Opposition, and the leader of the Majority is called the leader of the House ; but to recognize this title, and to criticize the fitness of the bearer of it for the business of the post, is not to argue for the subjection of the representatives of the people to the control of a Minister. The business (tribe leader of the Majority is to make a judicious selection of objects, and to arrange the order of measures ; and if he obtains confidence by his skilful per- formance of these tasks, his voice will always carry great authority in protesting against the intrusion of idle projects or unseasonable discussions interfering with the progress of bills important to the country. But this would not be the ocntrol of a Minister, it would be the control of the wiser counsel, the authority of approved skill. It is certain that there has been nothing of this in Lord Althorp'e management of the House of Commons, and we have complained of the grovelling servility with which the majority, have followed him in his blun- dering course. And is this requiring a submission to the management of a Ilinieter? The submission that we call for is a submission to the suggestions of abetter wisdom, or a submission to those common rules, which are, in all societies of men, found to conduce to success, whatever may be the business in hand. From Babel downwards we have never yet heard of the enterprise that was forwarded by a confusion of tongues ; and it is a maxim of experience that too many irons in the fire do not expedite the winks of a Urge. But it is asked, would we exclude the motions of independent members? Or should the Ministry occupy the whole field of legislation ? Certainly, it is clear lieu the better the Government, and the better the management of the majority *apporting it in the House, the lest are the occasions or the opportunities for the motions of independent alembers. If the Ministry weir seen select ng objects according to their importance, and preparing their ureaeures carefully, said pushing thou on resolutely, men of judgment, who had projects worth lietreeing to, would not interfere with the train of measures steadily proceeding in the older of expediency, and they would wait their time, or the adoption of their plans by sn intelligent and active Government. And this brings us to the remark we have before made, that an able and diligent Ministry that employed its various means and reseurces which uo individual legislator can pewee for the best preparation of the meet necessary measutes, would still the clamour of the Parliamentary projectors, as the men of sense and character, satisfied with what was doing, would forbear from urging !heir own proposals on the attention of a fully and usefully occupied House ; and the quacks and 1•10eklieuls, left to themselves in the bulginess of interruption, would *eon be pet to silence by the general sentiment of disgust at their obstructive intrusions. As matters, how- ever, have been ordered, or disordered, the whole thing bee been a scram:As—. every one snatching at his favourite measure, all balking and baffling each other, and feeling with too munch truth that there was walling b liked or baffled that had claims to a more forbearant treatment. In remarking on the pitch to which the art of doing nothing with the greatest possible noise had been carried in the last session, we observed that something like the principle upon which this very undesirable success depended might be traced in the iniemanagement of those ships in which every man proposes his own anameuvre ; and we added, that the confusion would be metre admirable still in those eases if the man at the helm were as ignorant of his business as the crew of discipline. We afterwards followed out the same illustration, and the example is seized upon to show that we require of Parliament the submission to a Minister which the crew should yield to the captain of a ship. We need not observe how stupid or disingenuous is this reading of our instance. The Commons have been the most submissive, and noisy, and inefficient crew in the service of the country ; but who has held the helm?—the Bear in the boat:— • u He neer suspects his want of skill,
But blunders on from ill to ill; And when he futile of all intent, Blames only unfoueseen event : Ou other rocks misguides the real n, Awl thinks a pilot at the helm."
" The beasts with admiration stare, Awl think him it prodigious bear."
CONTRACTION OF THE CURRENCY.
TRIM Sew—The currency is undergoing a decieed and rapid process of contraction ; and all the mischiefs to trade whiell are to be apprehended from such a process may be looked for at no distant period. But through there are, at the present crisis, active external causes in operation, to lessen the amount of the Bank of England's circulation, it must not be forgotten, that it is of the very essence of a metallic cure n y, or of a mongrel currency like ours—a currency of which the it ost useful portion has been compelled to assume the least useful form—to exhibit, at all times, and always in an increasing degree, a self.contracting tendency. In a country cursed with a metallic currency, or with a currency of which the basis is metallic, it will always be found, even in times furthest removed from appre- hensions of panic and convulsion, that money gradually accumulates into masses, in the hands of a few individuals—that money gradually, and by the operation of natural causes, deserts the channels of general circulation. Such a currency must always be a contracted curreucy—a currency in which the extent of con- traction increases day by day. The reason lies on the surface. Such a cur- rency is too expensive for the purposes of ordinary trade. Alen of mere industry and enterprise cannot pretend to use with advantage NO costly an instrument of exchange. Men of capital rarely require the money of their neighbours. Money, by consequence, lies unemployed in heaps. Deposits multiply and augment in the hands of bankers--and rich men, who find it difficult to get at once a high rate of interest, and ample security for the use of their hoard. talk in mournful terms of the suberabundance of money ! Iu the Bank of England alone there were lying last year unemployed balances to the amount of ten mil- lions; and many persons cognizant of this fact, were found to argue that the currency was not contracted, because the country contained such muses of unemployed wealth ! On the same principle, there can Lever he a scarcity of money in any quarter of the Ismail, while the ore of the South American mines remains uneximusted.
MR. DUNCOIIBE AND FRASER'S MAGAZINF.
MORNING CIIRONICLE—Mr. Thomas Duncombe has been foully slandered in Tracer's Magazine for this month, in a review of "The Past Session of Parliament." Speaking of the Finsbury election, the writer in the Magazine
lauds the Tory candidate, Mr. Pownall, as a man of " spotless character for religion and morality." This may be the case: indeed we have always heard that gentleman spoken favourably of in that respect ; and we trust he will find in the consolations of religion sufficient compensation for the hew of the honour of representing Finsbury. The electors of Finsbury did not reject him beeauso he was moral and religious, but because, judging of him by several previous ex- hibitions, and especially the noted expedition to Windsor, at the time of the peering of Catholic Emancipation, they thought him a gentlemen who must have a sufficient task on his hands tribe able to take care of himself. But, in contrast with Mr. Pownall, Mr. T. Duncombe is represented as " one of in- famous notoriety for every sort and degree of vice." Not content with this, the writer tells us that " in Mr. Duncomhe they saw one whose fame had reached through all classes, as a distinguished supporter of the gambling-house, the brothel, and every haunt of vice." And as if this were not sufficiently intelli- gible, the Dissenters of Finsbury are described as the " supporters of the favourite of Madame Vestris, and the patron of, and partner eta Crockford's Hell !" That Mr. Duncombe may have participated in the follies of young men
of his rank of life is possible. We are not the apologist,' of follies or vices, and Mr. Duncombe himself has probably no satisfaction in looking back on them. But if we are to tolerate inquiries into privet. life, and if youthful Ube,' are to exclude a man for ever from public trust, how few would be able to encounter the ordeal ? We have never heard that Mr. Duncombe had a greeter share of vices than young men of his rank of life; and certain we are that no man is more gene- rally beloved by men of all parties. It could only be from his being A general favourite that the very severe things he has often said in Parliament el his op- ponents, have been so patiently borne. One would suppose from the description, of " his being notorious fur every sort and degree of vice," that some of the individuals who find it necessary to retire to Paris or Brussels are angels com- pared with him. However, the extravagance of the accusation may be slid to defeat itself. There are people, however, who may suppose from his being described as a patron of (or partner in) Crockford's Reds, that lie really is some- thing more tl an what the Duke of Wellington and meet of the nobility and men of high fashion are—namely, a subscriber to Crockford's Club. The in- sinuation is, not only that he is an inveterate Fumbler, but that he decoys men to Crockford's Hell to be !Amulet ed, and has an ant eest in the profits of the con- cern. There never was a fouler cal, mny uttered. These are Oa, however, imputations to be lightly thrown out ! What would be said of us if we were to charge the Duke of Wellington, the Marquis of Queensberry, or any other member of Crockford's Club ( which we might do with equal justice), with being a paten of or partner in Crockford's Hell.