Parliament had voted £243,000 for the expenses of George IV's coronation-perhaps the effect of a newly-extended franchise may be traced in the more economical figure of £70,000, which sufficed for that of our present Queen.

The battle of Reform had been fought out in the country and in Parliament five years before the accession, and there were, as yet, no signs - to quote Sir Robert Peel's famous expression at Tamworth - of the Constitution being " trampled under the hoof of a ruthless democracy." On the whole, life - its business and pleasures - seemed to be going forward on much the same lines as before the great Act, dreaded, as it had been, as intensely by one party, as it had been pressed forward and welcomed by the other. Lord Melbourne was the head of a Whig Administration, of which, as everybody knows, the late King had waited impatiently for the first decent opportunity to get rid. But Melbourne and Lord John Russell (who, with the office of Home Secretary, was leader of the House of Commons) had to reckon with an advance wing of their own party, already known as Radicals, and were at least as profoundly averse from their projects as they were from the Tory policy. Melbourne and Russell desired to put down Radicalism and proceed with moderate and safe reforms, above all in Ireland, where the chronic discontent was being fanned to eruption by the exertions of Daniel O'Connell. The King's death had relieved the Whig Cabinet from the adverse influence of the Court ; moreover, the reliance placed from the first by the young Queen upon Lord Melbourne, and the intimate relations between them, brought about by the circumstances of the case, enabled the Whigs to assume the peculiar role of their opponents - that of the special supporters of the throne.

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The Tories, on the other hand, approached with much misgiving the General Election, which, according to the law as it then stood, followed of necessity on the demise of the monarch. They knew that the Duchess of Kent had favoured Whig principles in the education of the Queen ; they saw that Melbourne's personal charm had secured for him complete ascendancy in the councils of the new Sovereign, and they had nothing to expect in the country but reverse. However, the unpopularity of the new Poor Law told against Ministers in the rural constituencies, and the elections left parties almost unchanged. When the first Parliament of Queen Victoria assembled on November 20, 1837, the Whig Government reckoned a majority of about thirty in the House of Commons. " Of power," wrote the contemporary compiler of the Annual Register, " in a political sense, they had none. They could carry no measure of any kind but by the sufferance of Sir Robert Peel."

One incident in the short winter session of 1837, often as it has been recorded, retains a lasting interest because of the subsequent celebrity of the individual who gave rise to it. Mr. Benjamin Disraeli, the son of a distinguished man of letters, had just entered Parliament for the first time as Member for Maidstone. He chose a debate on Irish Election Petitions as the opportunity for his maiden speech. " A bottle-green frock coat," writes an eye-witness, " and a waistcoat of white, of the Dick Swiveller pattern, the front of which exhibited a network of glittering chains ; large, fancy pattern pantaloons, and a black tie, above which no shirt-collar was visible, completed the outward man. A countenance lividly pale, set out by a pair of intensely black eyes, and a broad but not very high forehead, overhung by clustering ringlets of coal-black hair, which, combed away from the right temple, fell in bunches of well-oiled ringlets over his left cheek."

Not a prepossessing personality in the eyes of the British House of Commons, and when the young orator proceeded to launch into profuse and florid metaphor, accompanied by exaggerated theatrical gestures, the forbearance usually shown towards a new member's first appearance was overborne by impatience at Disraeli's ludicrous affectation. He spoke amid incessant interruption and laughter. " At last, losing his temper, which until now he had preserved in a wonderful manner, he paused in the midst of a sentence, and looking the Liberals indignantly in the face, raised his hands, and opening his mouth as widely as its dimensions would admit, said in a remarkably loud and almost terrific tone, "I have begun several times many things, and I have often succeeded at last ; ay, sir, and though I sit down now, the time will come when you will hear me.' " The contrast between the early manner of this statesman, and his peculiarly quiet and leisurely bearing in the debates of later years, betrays the close study which he devoted to outward effect.

The Prime Minister, William Lamb, second Viscount Melbourne, was a typical Whig, genuinely

disposed to moderate reform, but in the habit of meeting Radical suggestions with the discouraging question, " Why not leave it alone ? " Of similar political temperament was his lieutenant in the Commons, Lord John Russell. It very soon became evident that the Radicals, though diminished in numbers by the result of the elections, were likely to give Ministers trouble in the new Parliament. In the Upper Chamber, Lord Brougham, who had conceived a violent dislike to Melbourne, began to employ his fiery energy and power of acrid invective against the Government, and showed himself ready to place himself at the head of the Radicals. In his first serious attack on Ministers he allied himself with the Tory Lord Lyndhurst. The opportunity arose out of events in Canada.

LORD JOHN RUSSELL, AFTERWARDS
EARL RUSSELL (1792-1878).

Sat in the House of Commons for forty-seven years. He introduced the great Reform Bill in 1831 and was twice Prime Minister (1846-52, and 1865-6). He was raised to the Peerage in 1861.

SIR ROBERT PEEL (1788-185o).

Was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1812, Home Secretary in 1822, and again in 1828-30 under the Duke of Wellington. In 183o he reconstructed the Metropolitan Police. He was Prime Minister in 1834-5, and again from 1841 to 1846. His second. Administration was distinguished by the total abolition of the Duty on Corn.

The Tory Party had by this time adopted the title of Conservatives, a term first applied to them by Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Review for January 1830, wherein he mentions his attachment to " what is called the Tory, but which might, with more propriety, be called the Conservative Party." The Charter of Conservatism was never more clearly defined than by Sir Robert Peel, who, speaking at Merchant Taylors' Hall in 1838, said : " My object for some years past has been to lay the foundations of a great party which, existing in the House of Commons, and deriving its strength from the popular will, should diminish the risk and deaden the shock of collisions between the two branches of the legislature."

 

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