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knowledge and character of that Sovereign whom we have the honour to serve, and whose delight it is to associate herself both with the interests and the convictions of her people. I may presume to say that I am also encouraged by the character and abilities of the men who have not shrunk from sharing with myself the responsibility of a Government that has now been fairly presented to the country, and which, I think, has met the public eye without attracting the public disapproval. We are strong, also, in that emphatic testimony which the public judgment—tested by the ordeal of the elections—has pronounced in favour of the policy to which we are pledged; and, above all this, we are sustained and comforted by that upon which, in the last resort, every man, and especially every public man, ought to fall back, namely, the deep conviction that the cause to which he is devoted is the cause of justice and of the public weal. If there be curiosity as to the course which the Government will endeavour to pursue upon and shortly after the opening of the Session, I am afraid I must not attempt, at this moment, to gratify that most natural and intelligible sentiment. But I do venture to give a pledge that not a moment will be lost in the maturing of those measures which, when produced and explained, will, I believe, afford to all full gratification. As I have said, the great majority which has been returned to Parliament for the support of the principles of the Liberal party constitutes, indeed, a remarkable—almost unparalleled success, and yet it is an event not without its dangers, for its dangers would outweigh its advantages, great as they may be, if they were to lead, on the part of any one among us, either to slackness of mind or to a disposition to undervalue the grave and serious nature of the obstacles we have to overcome. I believe that the provisions of our constitution, which secure a deliberate and impartial expression of the national conviction, are sufficient for the settlement of this or of any controversy; but as in the conduct of military campaigns there is no superiority of force that will counterbalance possible errors of generalship or lack of discipline, so we may throw away even these great advantages should we fail to turn them to the best account. Great is the responsibility that lies upon us in this respect, for if we fail we shall be exposed to the just reproaches of a disappointed, and even an indignant people. But if it shall be our happy lot to avoid the dangers besetting us on the right hand and on the left, then I will venture to say that never were public men more happy in the nature of the task they have been called upon to take in hand; for what can be an object dearer either to the understanding or the heart of man than to endeavour to bring about through the whole of this vast community that union of feeling and interest which, even in the degree in which we have hitherto possessed it, has been the source of our strength and glory, but which still presents to view here and there some points in which it is unhappily defective, and which we wish to bring up to that condition in which every man will almost forget whether he is a Scotchman, Englishman, or Irishman,
in the sense and consciousness of his belonging to a common country. For centuries we have been associated together in political bonds, for centuries our policy, so successful in most respects, has failed to attain the great and paramount purpose of carrying that sense of brotherhood throughout the three kingdoms as associated under the rule of Her Majesty. We are now called upon to make a great and supreme effort for that purpose. In a day it cannot be done ; by a single measure it cannot be done, nor, it may be, by many measures; the whole result cannot be produced as an immediate consequence of acts of legislation. But we have to deal with a people certainly not less susceptible than ourselves, not less capable of gratitude, attachment, and affection, not less inspired with the true and genuine love of justice; and for my part, I have faith in the policy which is founded upon justice; I believe it will produce its fruits in generating the sentiments of affection among mankind. These are, vaguely sketched, the opinions with which I have, and I think all the colleagues with which I am associated, desired to approach the consideration of that great question—the Irish question—which is uppermost and foremost in every man's mind at this peculiar juncture. To it we attach so much weight, that we well know there is nothing we can do in any other department of the public interest or public affairs which can possibly compensate for failure with regard to the Irish question. But I need not ask you, nor allow you for one moment to
that because we are in heart and mind determined to make this our first and paramount object, we shall therefore be forgetful of the other great interests of this country. In truth, there is but one consideration that tends, I think, to depress and sadden the mind of public men, and that is the consideration how the demands of those interests in this vast and diversified empire multiply far beyond the powers of human time, intelligence, and strength to meet them. We shall have great reason to depend upon your kindness and indulgence, but in every department of the State it has been endeavoured so to distribute the strength that we may possess as to secure an efficient discharge of the public duty; and I think and believe you will find there is no one of these departments which has not in its leading post a man thoroughly devoted to the public interest, and earnest to bestow unsparing labour in the pursuit of the public welfare. I will only add to this expression the remark that I must again thank you for the kindness with which we have been received here this evening, and assure you
that the comfort and strength which we derive from contact with our countrymen in the common atmosphere which we breathe upon an occasion such as this, is among the main satisfactions of our daily public life, and greatly assists and cheers us in the pursuit of the objects to which that life is devoted.”
It was related in the last volume that the preliminary proceedings requisite to constitute the new Parliament, viz. the election of a Speaker, the swearing-in of the members, and the moving of new writs to fill the vacancies caused by acceptance of office, had been gone through just before the close of the preceding year. The House of Commons, being thus put into working order, was adjourned for the despatch of business until the 16th of February, the recent accession of the Ministers to power requiring some interval in order to the preparation of their measures. It was on that day accordingly that the practical opening of the Session took place. It was not found possible for Her Majesty to appear in person on this occasion ; Parliament was therefore opened by Commission, and the reading of the Royal Speech devolved on the Lord Chancellor. It was in the terms following:
“ My Lords and Gentlemen,“I recur to your advice at the earliest period permitted by the arrangements consequent upon the retirement of the late Administration.
“And it is with special interest that I commend to you the resumption of your labours at a time when the popular branch of the Legislature has been chosen with the advantage of a greatly enlarged enfranchisement of my faithful and loyal people.
"I am able to inform you that my relations with all Foreign Powers continue to be most friendly; and I have the satisfaction to believe that they cordially share in the desire by which I am animated for the maintenance of peace. I shall at all times be anxious to use my best exertions for the promotion of this most important object.
“In concurrence with my allies, I have endeavoured, by friendly interposition, to effect a settlement of the differences which have arisen between Turkey and Greece; and I rejoice that our joint efforts have aided in preventing any serious interruption of tranquillity in the Levant.
“I have been engaged in negotiations with the United States of North America for the settlement of questions which affect the interests and the international relations of the two countries; and it is my earnest hope that the result of these negotiations may be to place on a firm and durable basis the friendship which should ever exist between England and America.
I have learned with grief that disturbances have occurred in New Zealand, and that at one spot they have been attended with circumstances of atrocity. I am confident that the Colonial Government and people will not be wanting either in energy to repress the outbreaks, or in the prudence and moderation which I trust may prevent their recurrence.
“ Gentlemen of the House of CommonsThe Estimates for the expenditure of the coming financial year will be submitted to you. They have been framed with a careful regard to the efficiency of the Services, and they will exhibit a diminished charge upon the country.
“My Lords and Gentlemen,“The ever-growing wants and diversified interests of the Empire
will necessarily bring many questions of public policy under your review.
“ The condition of Ireland permits me to believe that you will be spared the painful necessity which was felt by the late Parliament for narrowing the securities of personal liberty in that country by the suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act.
“I recommend that you should inquire into the present modes of conducting Parliamentary and municipal elections, and should consider whether it may be possible to provide any further guarantees for their tranquillity, purity, and freedom.
“A measure will be brought under your notice for the relief of some classes of occupiers from hardships in respect of rating, which appear to be capable of remedy.
* You will also be invited to direct your attention to Bills for the extension and improvement of education in Scotland, and for rendering the considerable revenues of the endowed schools of England more widely effectual for the purposes of instruction.
“A measure will be introduced for applying the principle of representation to the control of the county rate by the establishment of financial boards for counties.
“ It will be proposed to you to recur to the subject of bankruptcy, with a view to the more effective distribution of assets and to the abolition of imprisonment for debt.
“The ecclesiastical arrangements of Ireland will be brought under your consideration at a very early date, and the legislation which will be necessary in order to their final adjustment will make the largest demands upon the wisdom of Parliament.
“I am persuaded that, in the prosecution of the work, you will bear a careful regard to every legitimate interest which it may involve, and that you will be governed by the constant aim to promote the welfare of religion through the principles of equal justice, to secure the action of the undivided feeling and opinion of Ireland on the side of loyalty and law, to efface the memory of former contentions, and to cherish the sympathies of an affectionate people.
“In every matter of public interest, and especially in one so weighty, I pray that the Almighty may never cease to guide your deliberations, and may bring them to a happy issue.”
It will be observed that the terms in which the question of the Irish Church was referred to were so general as to avoid conveying any challenge to the opponents of the Government.
The Address in answer to the Royal Speech was, as usual, the first business of the two Houses. It was moved in the House of Lords by Lord Carysfort, who briefly reviewed the several topics adverted to by Her Majesty. He expressed his approval of the moderation of Turkey, and predicted advantage to Greece herself from submission to the decisions of the Conference. He referred briefly to the satisfactory results of Mr. Reverdy Johnson's mission, and, leaving the New Zealand question to the noble lord who was to follow him, he, as a staunch Protestant, congratulated the Empire on the national conscience having been at length awakened on the great subject of the Irish Church. The Irish Protestant Church had never taken root in the affections of the Irish people. The chances of its developing would be greater for the withdrawal of this “unhealthy fostering by the State ;” and this change would go far to remove any relics of discontent in that part of the United Kingdom.
Viscount Monck, in seconding the Address, said we had just passed through a great crisis in our country's history, and as great a transfer of political power had been effected as has, in other countries, been attended with the downfall of dynasties, and the effusion of blood. If we have taken “a leap in the dark,” we have been fortunate enough to alight on our feet. This result need not be a cause of surprise. During the last thirty years the unenfranchised had a large influence in bringing about the passing of measures which were generally admitted to be reforms. The political education they had received in the course of the agitation for those measures had entitled them to a political privilege, the happy results of which were seen in the recent general election. After reviewing other matters mentioned in the Speech, the noble lord said he had no authority to state what would be the details of the measure respecting the Irish Church; but, as an Irishman and a Churchman, he felt it his duty to lay down certain principles as indispensable to an efficient settlement of the question. In the first place, the disestablishment of the Irish Church must be of such a nature that the disconnexion of the Church from the State must be final and complete. The Church must be left perfectly free to adopt her own organization and form of government. The true interests of the Irish Church concur in the present demands of justice and policy. Nothing has been so injurious to the extension of the influence of the Protestant Church in Ireland as her connexion with the State. He did not desire to fight under false colours, and, quite apart from the circumstances of the case, he was, as a Churchman, opposed to the connexion of the Church with the State. With these views he did not share the gloomy apprehensions entertained by some as to the future of the Church in Ireland. With his experience in Canada of the beneficial effects of throwing the Church on her own resources, he could not share any such belief. He had too great faith in the vitality of his religion to doubt for a moment that the means of support would be forthcoming, and he looked forward to a noble future for the Church, when she was relieved from the opprobrium of injustice.
Lord Cairns said it was satisfactory that the language of the Address was framed in a manner to prevent dissent or division. He doubted whether the end proposed by the Conference, if agreed in by the great Powers, might not have been attained by direct representations to Greece, without resort to so hazardous a machinery. On the intimation that Parliament would not be