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The new Premier, however, was resolute, and persevered with his arrangements. He found an excellent successor to Lord Eldon, as Chancellor, in Sir John Copley, the Master of the Rolls, who was created Lord Lyndhurst. Mr. Peel, as Home Secretary, was succeeded by Mr. Sturges Bourne, who retired after a few weeks to make way for the Marquis of Lansdowne. He represented a section of the Whigs, prominent among whom were Brougham, Tierney and Burdett, who gave their support to the Ministry. The Duke of Clarence succeeded Lord Melville as First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Marquis of Anglesey the Duke of Wellington as Master-General of the Ordnance. Viscount Palmerston was appointed the Secretary at War, with which office he commenced his long, brilliant, and popular career as a Cabinet Minister. The new Master of the Rolls was Sir John Leech, the Attorney-General Sir James Scarlett, and the Solicitor-General Sir N. Tindal. Mr. Lamb, afterwards Lord Melbourne, succeeded Mr. Goulburn as Chief Secretary of Ireland.[See larger version]
The audacity of Buonaparte still further excited the indignation of the British Government. Under the name of consuls, he sent over to England and Ireland a number of military officers, whose real business was to act as privileged spies, to prepare plans of all the chief ports, with soundings, and an exact account of the winds with which vessels could go out or come in with most ease, and also at what draught of water the harbours might be entered by large vessels. These agents had been instructed to maintain the utmost secrecy as to their real objects, but they became known, and Ministers announced that any person coming in such a character to this country should be ordered instantly to quit it. Neither was the temper of the nation at all improved by the irritating proceedings of the French authorities on the coasts of France. A law had been passed by the Jacobins, in the most rabid time of the Revolution, condemning any vessel under a hundred tons burden found within four leagues of the French shores, having on board British merchandise. It was taken for granted that this decree was virtually annulled by the Peace of Amiens; but repeated seizures were now made of British merchant vessels driven by stress of weather on the French coasts, and the mere fact of having plates, knives, and forks for the crew, of British make, was used as a plea for confiscation of ships. It was in vain that remonstrances were made to the First Consul: they passed without notice. Such a peace it was evident could not last long. Napoleon was in a mood to brook no control from any quarter; he at this time showed how completely he would crush any creature who offended him when he had the power.At the close of the Session of 1837 an earnest desire was expressed by the leaders of both parties in the House for an amicable adjustment of two great Irish questions which had been pending for a long time, and had excited considerable ill-feeling, and wasted much of the time of the Legislaturenamely, the Irish Church question, and the question of Corporate Reform. The Conservatives were disposed to compromise the matter, and to get the Municipal Reform Bill passed through the Lords, provided the Ministry abandoned the celebrated Appropriation Clause, which would devote any surplus revenue of the Church Establishment, not required for the spiritual care of its members, to the moral and religious education of all classes of the people, without distinction of religious persuasion; providing for the resumption of such surplus, or any part of it, as might be required, by an increase in the numbers of the members of the Established Church. The result of this understanding was the passing of the Tithe Bill. But there were some little incidents of party warfare connected with these matters, which may be noticed here as illustrative of the temper of the times. On the 14th of May Sir Thomas Acland brought forward a resolution for rescinding the Appropriation Clause. This Lord John Russell regarded as a breach of faith. He said that the present motion was not in accordance with the Duke of Wellington's declared desire to see the Irish questions brought to a final settlement. Sir Robert Peel, however, made a statement to show that the complaint of Lord John Russell about being overreached, was without a shadow of foundation. The noble lord's conduct he declared to be without precedent. He called upon Parliament to come to the discussion of a great question, upon a motion which he intended should be the foundation of the final settlement of that question; and yet, so ambiguous was his language, that it was impossible to say what was or was not the purport of his scheme. Sir Thomas Acland's motion for rescinding the Appropriation resolution was rejected by a majority of 19, the numbers being 317 and 298. On the following day Lord John Russell gave Sir Robert Peel distinctly to understand that the Tithe measure would consist solely of a proposition that the composition then existing should be converted into a rent charge. On the 29th of the same month, Lord John Russell having moved that the House should go into committee on the Irish Municipal Bill, Sir Robert Peel gave his views at length on the Irish questions, which were now taken up in earnest, with a view to their final settlement. The House of Commons having disposed of the Corporation Bill, proceeded on the 2nd of July to consider Lord John Russell's resolutions on the Church question. But Mr. Ward, who was strong on that question, attacked the Government for their abandonment of the Appropriation Clause. He concluded by moving a series of resolutions reaffirming the appropriation principle. His motion was rejected by a majority of 270 to 46. The House then went into committee, and in due course the Irish Tithe Bill passed into law, and the vexed Church question was settled for a quarter of a century. The Municipal Bill, however, was once more mutilated by Lord Lyndhurst, who substituted a 10 for a 5 valuation. The amendment was rejected by the Commons, but the Lords stood firmly by their decision, and a conference between the two Houses having failed to settle the question, the measure was abandoned. In these events the Ministry had incurred much disrepute.
Lord Townshend succeeded Stanhope as Secretary of State. Aislabie, who had been deep in the iniquities of the South Sea affair, was compelled to resign his post as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to which Walpole succeeded. Meanwhile the Secret Committee appointed by the Commons continued its labours indefatigably. They sat nearly every day from nine in the morning till eleven at night, and on the 16th of February, 1721, they presented their first report to the House. This revealed a vast amount of Ministerial corruption.
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