CONSERVATIVE ESTIMATE OF PEEL'S MINISTRY. [From the Times, Wednesday, July
5.] Our readers are not likely to have forgotten those annual summaries of the results of Whig legislation with which Lord Lyndhurst used in former days to entertain the House of Lords. Returns of the number and titles of measures brought in, and measures passed, and of the different stages at which one bill after another fell beneath the victorious onset of the Conservative enemy, or was abandoned by its own feeble progenitors, were regularly moved for and laid upon the table of the House. "A beggarly account of empty boxes" it certainly was, in every instance ; and bravely did the noble and learned Lord deal out his taunts at the mighty promises and small performance, of which It was his pleasure to heighten the contrast with all the force of his sarcastic eloquence.
Happily for the party now in power, there is no Lord Lyndhurst on the Opposition-benches to do the like kind office for them at the close of the present session ; Lord Brougham having gone a wooing in his old age after—nobody exactly knows what, but something, which inclines him much more to be the panegyrist of the Government than to expose their weakness. Otherwise, the Chancellor might not only be paid off in his own coin, but might receive interest into the bargain.
The Whigs were inefficient under Lord Melbourne, certainly. They passed few of their measures, no doubt. But this at least they could say, that the cause of their failure was in the strength of their adversaries, not in their own imbecility. If they were able to accomplish little, they proposed and attempted much. No one could allege that they acted as if they would have been at a loss what to do with a strong majority at their back. While they had such a majority, they governed with a high hand, and carried many measures of firstTate importance, and of various degrees of merit and demerit—the Reform Act, the Municipal Act, the Tithe-commutation Act, the Negro-emancipation Act, the New Poor-law. When Ireland was more turbulent than usual, they did not hesitate to ask for a Coercion Act. Did Canada rebel, they suppressed the rebellion with prompt determination and vigour. But the Government which has succeeded them seems ambitious of exhibiting in the face of the world the union of absolute inefficiency with absolute power. 'With a degree of Parliamentary strength unprecedented of late years, they are about to close a session, the legislation of which, for all important purposes, will be an absolute blank. Two measures only, pretending to any largeness of character, did they introduce—the Factories Education Bill and the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill. Both these measures have undergone in their passage through the House of Commons (not yet completed) such reverses, curtailments, and transmutations, as scarcely any Whig measure ever experienced even at the lowest period of Whig decline. Their fundamental principles discarded, every provision which made them objects of public interest stripped away, they now remain mere capita mortua, laughingstocks of the whole country. Yet these are all, absolutely all, the fruits of the united wisdom of the Conservative Cabinet, with its majority of 100, which the present year has seen. For the rest, so utterly barren has been the campaign, that the Liberal Opposition is reduced, in very despair for something to oppose, to spend thirteen nights in fighting a bill, the first twelve clauses of which are only as yet agreed to for the mere continuance (under circumstances which made them unusually necessary) of powers which have been granted to every Government in Ireland since the beginning of the century, and to Whig Governments without dispute. How is this to be accounted for? Did not Sir Robert Peel hold mysterious
silence for nearly a year after his accession to power, while every one supposed him to be maturing some grand scheme of policy, for the development of which the whole nation waited with impatience? Is this grand scheme, after all, merely and simply—nothing? Or is it nothing but a system of administering, at long intervals, such small doses of Free Trade as the Corn-law and the Tariff of 1842? People will not fail to observe that the same Minister, who bas proved as yet so marvellously scanty in legislative resources of his own, cherishes as the very apple of his eye every thing which was formerly dbne (often in spite of his strongest opposition) by those on whose ruin he stands. Was mere power, then, after all, his object ? Were there no Imposes for which he sought power ?—no evils to be remedied, no had laws to be amended, no dangers to be prevented, no great deeds to be performed ? Does Sir Robert Peel really imagine that he persuaded the people of England to overturn a Government only for his sake ? Is there no principle in his Conservatism, but to adhere to just what the Whigs did, and timidly advance a little further in their direction ? Mao, it is time he should learn that this was not the Con
servative principle which seated him in power, and that most assuredly this will not keep him there. It is impossible to wonder, if such is the case, that with all his seeming majority he is so slow to act; for action must necessarily show the man, and exhibit a principle and purpose in Conservatism, before which the professing Conservative Minister who does not adopt it must infallibly fall. Meanwhile, the vigour which is wanting in legislation does not show itself
NI the executive department. Elements of mischief have been gathering in many quarters, while the Government has looked idly on, and displayed neither activity, nor decision, nor prudence. In Wales, in spite of many warnings, causes which a little care and concern for the practical grievances of the people might easily have obviated, have at length issued in a formidable system of agrarian Insurrection; acid with the prospect, unfortunately, before us of an extensive and sudden reduction of employment in the iron-trade, it is impossible to look upon such a state of things without the most serious alarm. In Ireland, O'Connell has been and still is disciplining his armies,—if for no evil result, the thanks undoubtedly will not be due to those who have thrown away
unexampled opportunities of conciliation, and met disaffection without firmness. They have done enough to condemn themselves for %hat they have not done ; for, by dismissing Magistrates for attending Repeal meetings, they have emphatically asserted those meetings to be dangerous to the public peace ; and yet they have taken no step to make or declare them illegal.