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ing a Council meeting without a summons, he would subject himself to the risk of instant dismissal, upon the appeal of the Prime Minister to the sovereign.


Divisions in the Cabinet, from the want of a recognition Continued of the principle of political unity, continued to exist in the during the administrations which followed upon the ac- Cabinet. cession of the House of Hanover, save only when Robert Walpole was chief minister. Owing to his extraordinary talents, thorough familiarity with the details of office, and skill in the art of governing men, Walpole succeeded in engrossing the supreme direction of affairs. For twenty years his control in the Cabinet was unlimited and undeniable. But when, in 1742, he was compelled to retire from office, there ceased to be any political agreement amongst the ministers of the crown. Pulteney, who upon Walpole's resignation was commissioned to form a new ministry, was obliged to content himself with a reconstruction of the old one on the Whig basis; and when reproached by his party that the Tories, though forming the larger portion of the opposition under his command, had been altogether excluded from office, he counselled patience, and justified his conduct on the plea that there was neither justice nor prudence in attempting to dictate to the king.' Ere long the Tory party were gratified by receiving a share of the ministerial offices, and so the new administration was founded upon 'the broad bottom' of both parties." In 1763, upon the retirement of Lord Bute, the elder Pitt was sent for by the king, but he refused to form a ministry unless there was almost a complete change of men in the ministerial offices, declaring that if his majesty thought fit to make use of such a little knife as himself, he must not blunt the edge; and that he and his friends could never come into government but as a party.' The king refused to give those who had served him faithfully, and thus the


Mahon, Hist. of Eng. vol. iii. pp. 161–169, 198.

Lack of a bond of


negotiation came to an end, Lord Grenville being entrusted with the formation of a ministry, the composition of which was amicably arranged between himself and the king.'


The lack of a common bond of union amongst the ministers of the crown at this period, and the continued interference of the king with the proposed arrangements for the construction of ministries, naturally resulted in a series of weak and vacillating administrations. Moreover, it was no uncommon thing, at this time, to see colleagues in office opposing one another in Parliament upon measures that ought to have been supported by a united Cabinet." This defective system continued in operation during the first twenty years of the reign of George III., and until the rise of the second William Pitt. For the long continuance of practices so entirely opposed to the principles of constitutional government, the king himself must be regarded as mainly accountable. In his love of power, and anxiety to carry out his peculiar ideas of government, he had formed a party of his own which was known as 'the king's friends,' with whose aid he endeavoured to influence the course of legislation, irrespective of his responsible advisers, if the measures they proposed were at all at variance with his private convictions. Many of the king's friends,' who held offices in the state or household, looked to the king and not to his ministers for instructions; and accordingly, not unfrequently opposed the ministerial measures in their progress through Parliament.' But after Mr. Pitt became Premier, in 1783, this objectionable practice was discontinued. The king placed entire confidence in Mr. Pitt, and yielded to his advice in state affairs, save only in

Grenville Papers, vol. ii. pp. 104-
106, 198.

See post, pp. 325-331. Hearn,
Govt. of Eng. pp. 198, 199. Cox,
Inst. 253. Knight's Hist. of Eng. vol.
vi. pp. 140, 200.

* Ibid. 303, 434, 439. Mahon, Hist. of Eng. vol. vii. p. 213. Adolphus, George III. vol. iii. p. 349. Donne, Corresp. George III. vol. i. 282. Hearn, Govt. of Eng. p. 195. See ante, vol. i. p. 49.


regard to certain questions, which he would not permit to be entertained. Pitt's supremacy in the councils of his sovereign, as well as in Parliament, was undisputed by his colleagues, and continued unimpaired until his death. After that event, and during the existence of the Grenville ministry, the king for a short time, in 1807, renewed his interference with the policy of his constitutional advisers, threatening them with the opposition of his 'friends' in Parliament, if they continued to support Roman Catholic claims. But on the dismissal of this ministry a Tory Cabinet was again formed, under Mr. Perceval, to which the king gave an unqualified support.

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In 1812, during the Regency, an attempt was made to Political form a ministry, consisting of men of opposite political unanimity principles, who were invited to accept office, not avowedly blished as a coalition government, but with an offer to the Whig leaders that their friends should be allowed a majority of one in the Cabinet. This offer, though declared at the time to be not 'a very unusual thing,' was declined on the plea that to construct a cabinet on a system of counter-action was inconsistent with the prosecution of any uniform and beneficial course of policy."


From henceforth this was an admitted political maxim, and all Cabinets are now constructed upon some basis of political union, agreed upon by the members composing the same when they accept office together. It is also distinctly understood that, so long as the different members of a Cabinet continue in the ministry, they are jointly and severally responsible for each other's acts, and that any attempt to separate between a particular minister and the rest of his colleagues in such matters would be unconstitutional and unfair. The existing usage in this respect will receive a fuller explanation when we come

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Simultaneous changes formerly unknown.

Sir R.

to consider the duties of the administration in connection with Parliament.

(2) The practice of simultaneous changes of the whole cabinet, as a result of its dependence upon the approbation of the House of Commons.

This practice, like that to which our attention has just been directed, was unknown upon the first establishment of parliamentary government. During the reign of William III. changes in the ministry were always gradual, and were occasioned partly by the personal feelings of the king, and partly by considerations of the relative strength of parties in Parliament. From the Revolution until the reign of George I., there is no instance of the simultaneous dismissal of a whole ministry, and their replacement by another." The first example of this kind occurs in the time of George I., who immediately upon his accession to the throne effected a total change in all the principal offices of state. But this alteration took place on account of personal objections entertained by the king to the ministers of Queen Anne, not because of prevailing opinions in Parliament.

The first instance on record of the resignation of a Prime Minister in deference to an adverse vote of the House of Commons, was that of Sir Robert Walpole. The career of this statesman is remarkable, as he affords in his own person the first example of elevation to the rank of first minister of the crown, and of subsequent deprivation of office, without reference to the personal wishes of the sovereign, but through the influence of the dominant party in the House of Commons.

In the year 1721, George I. being the reigning monarch, and Lord Sunderland his first minister, the Whig leaders, who had a large majority in the House of Commons, exerted their influence for the promotion of Walpole, who held a subordinate office in the ministry,

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to be First Lord of the Treasury, in place of Sunderland, who was obliged to resign, owing to the popular odium against him, on account of his supposed implication in the notorious South Sea Bubble. Sunderland was the king's favourite minister, and he himself was no party to the proposed arrangement, even if it was not directly contrary to his wishes. Nevertheless, although through the efforts of Walpole he had been acquitted from the charge of being directly concerned in this stupendous fraud, yet public opinion compelled him to resign his post of First Lord of the Treasury. Walpole's ascen- Becomes dancy in the House of Commons pointed him out as the Prime most capable man to succeed to this office, and thus he became Prime Minister. His career in this capacity was, as we have seen, extremely successful. He soon contrived to ingratiate himself with George I. and to enjoy the confidence of that monarch, and of his successor, for nearly twenty years. During the same period he managed to retain his ascendancy in the House of Commons. At length the tide of popularity turned against him, and in 1741 it became evident that his downfall was at hand.

On February 13, 1741, addresses for the removal of Sir Robert Walpole from the king's presence and counsels for ever, were proposed in both Houses of Parliament. The mover of the address in the House of Commons attributed to Walpole entire responsibility for the misgovernment of the country, because he had 'grasped in his own hands every branch of government; had attained the sole direction of affairs, monopolised all the favours of the crown; compassed the disposal of all places, pensions, titles and rewards,'-truly a scarcely exaggerated description of the almost despotic power of a constitutional Premier. The line of defence adopted by Walpole was singular; and quite inconsistent with the modern

d Coxe, Memoirs of Walpole, vol. i. chs. 21, 22.

* Ante, p. 107. See further particu

lars in regard to Walpole's character
and methods of administration, post,
pp. 120-125


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