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COMPARISON OF THE DOMESTICK POLICY OF THE DUKE
OF WELLINGTON'S GOVERNMENT WITH THAT OF MR. CANNING. -TEST ACT: CATHOLICK QUESTION. CORN LAWS. FINANCE. COMPARISON OF THE FOREIGN POLICY OF THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON's GOVERNMENT WITH THAT OF MR. CANNING. TURKEY AND GREECE. - PORTUGAL, AND GENERAL SYSTEM. COLLISION BETWEEN THE TWO EXTREME PARTIES IN EVROPE.
In the last chapter the history of Mr. Canning's life has been brought to a conclusion. Our task, therefore, would likewise be concluded, were it not that it has been more than once asserted in Parliament by persons of consideration, that the Government of the Duke of Wellington has been guided by Mr. Canning's principles, and has maintained his “ system” of Foreign Policy.
On the merits, or the demerits, of the Duke's Administration various opinions may be entertained. All that we intend to affirm is, that His Grace's principles of Government were not the same as Mr. Canning's; and that the course of his foreign policy was directly at variance with Mr. Canning's “ System.”
To establish this distinction is obviously but an act of justice to both parties, lest the one should carry off the praise, or be made responsible for the faults, which the adherents or enemies of the other may be respectively disposed to attribute to his political measures.
In the preceding pages of this work, Mr. Canning's principles of action have been not only stated in his own words, but have been illustrated by examples of their practical application. There is no room, therefore, for any mistake or misrepresentation as to their nature: and further, a pause in the narration has more than once been made, for the purpose of bringing his measures to the test, by enquiring whether they were really in accordance with those fixed principles, which he professed to have laid down as the guide of his political conduct. It is now intended to try the measures of the Duke of Wellington's administration by the same test, in order to show, that, however excellent were the fixed principles of His Grace, they were, with respect to our foreign relations, in no way similar to those which were acted upon by Mr. Canning; and that, with respect to measures of internal policy, if there has been a much less marked deviation, and, indeed, in some striking instances, an unexpected conformity, yet in many cases there has occurred a very decided variation.
In a brief review of this nature, it is not necessary to touch upon every measure of the Government, but simply to refer to those which, from their importance, afford the best means of judging of its principles.
In the first session after the Duke of Wellington had become the Premier, the two leading questions were, the Corn Bill and the Test and Corporation Acts. On both these measures, Mr. Peel was the organ of the Government, in the House of Commons. The point, therefore, into which we have to examine, is, whether the principles which guided Mr. Peel were the same as those which Mr. Canning had laid down.
Now, with respect to the particular laws affecting Dissenters, Mr. Canning had expressed his opinion strongly against their repeal ; 1st, because upon principle he was unwilling to alter laws which produced no practical grievance; 2dly, because he was favourable to a “ dominant established church ;” 3dly, because he thought the repeal would militate against the settlement of the Catholick Question. Mr. Peel likewise had expressed a decided determination to oppose the measure, “ whether in or out of “office,” — and one of the grounds on which he declared his distrust of Mr. Canning's Govern.
ment was his fear, that the repeal of those laws would not be resisted by it. Accordingly, when the motion for going into a Committee was brought forward, on the 27th of February, 1828, by Lord John Russell, Mr. Peel opposed it ; but it was nevertheless carried by a majority of 44. A few days after this decision, Mr. Peel came forward, and consented not only to withdraw his opposition, but to give his support, if, into Lord John's bill, a clause were introduced, providing that all individuals appointed to offices, which subjected them to the Sacramental Test, should make and subscribe a declaration solemnly promising not to use their official influence in attempts to subvert, or injure, the Protestant Church. This being conceded, he advocated the repeal, as did the Duke of Wellington in the other House of Parliament.
It appears then that Mr. Peel supported this measure, which Mr. Canning had declared his determination to resist; therefore the Duke of Wellington's Ministry, in this instance, was not guided by Mr. Canning's principles. To this it
may be answered, that Mr. Canning and Mr. Peel avowed their determination to resist the abrogation of these laws, before a vote in favour of it had been passed by the House of Commons; and therefore such an expression of the opinion of the House might have induced Mr. Canning to act in the same way as Mr. Peel.
But it ap
pears that Mr. Peel still retained his own opinion as to the inexpediency of the measure. He said “ he could no longer think of pressing his own “ opinion* in the vain hope of altering what un
doubtedly appeared to be the fixed opinion of “ the House." But such was not the course which Mr. Canning had described as befitting a responsible Minister of the Crown. “ If,” said Mr. Canning t, “a Minister be not, in his judge“ ment, convinced of the thorough propriety of “ the course which should be recommended, it “ becomes his duty to waive every other consider“ation, to persevere in his determination to leave “ to the Parliament of the Country to adopt such “measures as to them may seem expedient, and “ to place measures which he does not think it
right to sanction, in hands more capable of “ carrying them into execution."
It is impossible, therefore, to contend that the conduct of the Government on this occasion was in conformity, either with the views taken by Mr. Canning of this particular measure, or with the general principles which he considered ought to be the rule of conduct with a responsible Minister of the Crown. It was not a ques
. tion whether the point at issue was of small importance. The occasion on which Mr. Can- .
* Vide Mr. Peel's Speech, March 19. 1828. + Vide Mr. Canning's Speech, February 23. 1826.