17 NOVEMBER 1855, Page 12



Tin Cabinet continues tobe out of repair, two of its constituent parts wanting, at a time when we peculiarly desire that every- thing about the Government should be complete, compact, and trim. It is not that Lord Palmerston is on the decline. The citi- zens of London propose to substitute him for that one of their Members who has lost the favouring breath of popularity. It has become a Point of dignity with the City to have a lord and states. man among its Members ; it must be represented in Downing 13treet and in the Cabinet as well as in the House of Commons • and the honour of that representation is to be conferred, like the freedom of the City, upon the Premier, unsolicited. So it is "all right" with Lord Palmerston. Nor is it that any party in the state is rising to contest power with the Government; there is no present prospect of any such danger for the existing Ministry. Comparisons, indeed, have been made between those who are out and those who are in, disparaging to Lord Palmerston's support; and the attempt to en- list Lord Stanley was a proof how much it was felt desirable to diminish the weight of talking power arrayed against Ministers. But, however the Oppositions may talk, they are not expected to do much more, and the bombardment must be expected to produce its grand effect at some time subsequent to the display. The fact is, the Oppositions perceive that, slight as is the effective hold of Ministers upon the existing House of Commons, that of either one of the Oppo- sitions is Blighter. The present House of Commons is too vicious in the very tissue of its composition to be firmly held by any party. The bulk of its Members show no strength of conviction, no solidity of purpose ; and that which is in itself loose cannot be held with firm- ness. But this vicious state of the Commons dictates the tactics of the Oppositions. Although the House can be mustered and driven to its duty, by Ministers on important occasions, it cannot be trusted in the intervals. Its morale is gone. It furnishes neither the resistance nor the standing-ground which are essential to consistent action. Hence the Oppositions can always find op- portunity enough to harass a Government which they cannot over- throw ; and in the petty warfare they effect two objects—they progressively. weaken the Government, and they exhibit to the country a series of discreditable scenes in the House under the lead of Lord Palmerston's Administration.

There is only too much reason to apprehend that the next ses- sion will afford increased opportunities for this kind of intrigue, at the same time that the country will more than ever stand in need of clear and firm government in the presence of Parliament. The difficulties of the year now closing bear no proportion to those of the year that will soon open. The third year of war must neces- sarily have its accumulated sacrifices. Whatever may be the causes of the monetary derangement in France,—and we believe they are many,—there is no doubt that the system of credit has been expanded to enormous proportions, by private parties as well as by the Government, in the hope of "tiding over' the season of difficulty and drifting into a season of relief : but instead of re- lief, the season presents new troubles—a deficient harvest, discon- tent, revived hopes for faction, a turbulent winter; troubles ag- gravated by the necessity for new advances by loan, and rapidly increasing money difficulties in Austria to "drain the market." In this country bread continues to rise; and although trade is "sound," the whisper of reduced wages has been heard in the North. Should any misunderstanding with America be added to the list, far short of actual hostilities we may expect a sud- den accession of mistrust. It will become a very difficult and delicate matter to transact business under the alliance with France in the face of money questions, perhaps claims urged by English subjects ; doubly difficult when unscrupulous men, in an undisci- plined House of Commons, are watching to seize any opportunity for creating a bad spirit on either side. In a dark and troubled season like that which appears to be coming, the public, in its tre- pidation or irritation, will be looking to Ministers and Parliament for " measures "; and it would need a strong Government, sup- ported by a patriotic and intelligent Parliament, to grant or to re- fuse. The Bank Act of 1844 will be defended, the alliance may be maintained, no assize of bread will be granted ; but the refusal of " concessions " will be followed by a continuance, perhaps in aggra- vation, of difficulties which several parties will be anxious to trace to the actual Government; and in no empiricism is the principle "post hoc propter hoc" so powerful as in the empiricism of faction.

We do not, of course, expect that it will be made " all right" with everything by the magical effect of appointing a Colonial Secretary and a Postmaster-General. Neither our colonies nor our letters are at present suffering, nor will the addition of two more heads to the Cabinet endow it with preternatural power. The continued void in the ranks is the confession of a weakness that will not be removed by filling up the two vacancies. "The sys- tem " is out of health, and it will not be restored by the simple healing of the local sore. "The Commons," said a morning jour- nal last week, " want to be represented in the Cabinet by men of their own class," not by a Cabinet formed "in total disregard of representative claims," " out of second-rate men of a few aristo- cratic circles." If it is true that the Commons so want, they can satisfy the want; but it is not by advancing it as "a claim" which the Minister can refuse or grant at his discretion. It is true that Lord Palmerston has been seeking for recruits mainly among Peers and not Commoners, or that if the offer was made to a Commoner it was still to a man with an hereditary title. Brit he did so because

the Commons has not exercised its function of presenting men cal- culated to strengthen his Government. And the strength which he desires in the Government is equally desirable for public interests. In the same morning journal two supposed candidates for high office are rejected as totally without political standing—Mr. Cardwell and Mr. Peel. Yet no name is more completely identified with a knowledge of our commerce than that of Cardwell, and among Commoners that of Peel is hereditary. There may be men in the present House who possess all the qualities for really representa- tive Ministers ; but, either through indifference, or through lack of the ambitious will which is so essential to the national leader, they have failed to take their stand and collect around them their following. Others have felt the impulse of will but have lacked the qualities, and, dashing at power without labouring for it, have frittered away what abilities they had on paltry opportunities. The result is, that the actual Government has been left to a great degree in the hands of certain sets who have made government their business. Who is to blame P If the Members who are thus indifferent or thus incapable falsely represent the country, again we ask, who is to blame P We are drifting into a troublous sea- son with a weak Parliamentary Government., and a House of Com- mons that cannot substantiate its own full representation in the Cabinet : but Lord Palmerston did not make the House of Com- mons.