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doctrine of the right of Parliament to control the fate of the king's ministers. He vindicated his conduct in office, accepting the full measure of his responsibility which had been imputed to him, but declared that an address to his majesty to remove one of his servants, without so much as alleging any particular crime against him, was one of the greatest encroachments that was ever made upon the prerogative of the crown;' and he called 'upon all who respected the constitution, and the rights of the crown, to resist the motion.' His speech produced a strong effect, and the motion was negatived by a large majority. A similar result attended the motion in the House of Lords. Soon after this, Parliament was dissolved, it having reached the natural term of its existence. When the new Parliament met, it was speedily apparent that Walpole's popularity was gone. After a defeat on the Chippenham election petition, on January 28, 1742, he took the advice of his friends, and, with great reluctance, resigned his office. Thus the end of his political career, as well as its beginning, must be wholly ascribed to the great and increasing influence of the House of Commons.

Walpole's resignation, however, was not accompanied resign his by that of the whole of his colleagues; the solidarity of colleagues. the ministry, and its dependence upon the continuance in office of its recognised head, not having been as yet established. On the contrary, the king (George II.) sent a message to Pulteney, who had been commissioned to form a new ministry, expressing a hope that he would 'not distress the government by making too many changes in the midst of a session.' To this Pulteney replied, that he did not insist on a total change, provided the principal officers in the Cabinet, and the main forts of the government,' were delivered into the hands of his party. These terms were accordingly agreed upon."

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The advent of Lord Rockingham's ministry to power, in 1782, is noticeable as being the first instance of the simultaneous change of the whole administration, in deference altogether to the opinions of the House of Commons. The ministry of Lord North, after an exist- Lord ence of twelve years, began to be regarded with disfavour North's ministry in that House. A direct vote of want of confidence had indeed been negatived, but only by a majority of nine. A similar motion was about to be offered, when it was evident that the defeat of the ministry could not be averted. The king himself was strongly averse to change, but Lord North managed to convince him that it was unavoidable. Accordingly, on March 20, 1782, the very day when the new motion, to declare that the House had lost confidence in his majesty's advisers, was to be brought forward, Lord North was commissioned to inform the House that his administration was at an end. Seven days afterwards the king wrote to Lord North, 'At length the fatal day is come, which the misfortunes of the times, and the sudden change of sentiments in the House of Commons, have driven me to, of changing my ministers, and a more general removal of other persons, than I believe was ever known before.' Excepting that Lord Thurlow still remained as the king's chancellor," the together. change of administration was total, a thing heretofore unprecedented.*

Mahon, Hist. of Eng. vii. 205-208. Thurlow was first appointed Lord Chancellor in June, 1778, in Lord North's administration. He continued to hold the office during the subsequent administrations of Lord Rockingham and Lord Shelburne. During the Coalition Ministry, from April to December, 1783, the Great Seal was in commission. But on Mr. Pitt's appointment to office, in December, 1783, Lord Thurlow resumed the Great Seal, and retained it until his dismissal, in January, 1793. (Ed. Rer. vol. ciii. p. 333.) Another striking example of the retention of VOL. II.



office by an individual minister during
successive changes of government, is
found in the case of the late Lord
Palmerston, who was first appointed
Secretary at War in 1809, and con-
tinued to fill that office, without in-
termission, until 1828.
He was
afterwards appointed Foreign Secre-
tary, in November 1830, which office
he held until 1841, with the excep-
tion of the brief interval of the Peel
ministry, in 1834–5. In his subse-
quent career, he invariably followed
the fortunes of his party.

Knight's Hist. of Eng. vol. vi. p.
435. Cox, Inst. Eng. Govt. 251.

retires al

Since then ministries

have gone out to



condition of the Cabinet

before the reign of Geo. III.

Thenceforward, the existence of a ministry has always depended upon its ability to retain the goodwill or confidence of Parliament, and when a change of ministry has occurred, it has invariably been simultaneous and complete. If any individual ministers have remained in office, upon the formal retirement of a Cabinet, they have been obliged to make a fresh agreement with the incoming Premier, ere they could form part of the new administration. The precise circumstances under which resignations of office become constitutionally necessary, will be hereafter considered.

(3). The origin and development of the office of Prime Minister.

Our remarks on this head will be suitably prefaced by a brief description of the interior condition of the Cabinet Council at the precise stage in its history at which we have now arrived.

At the period of the accession of the House of Hanover, parliamentary government may be considered as fully established. It had been accepted, both by the crown. and by the people, as the polity best adapted for insuring harmonious action between the executive and legislative authorities; and as affording the freest scope for freedom of opinion combined with an intelligent regard for the maintenance of monarchical principles. Nevertheless, the new system was still in its infancy, and it exhibited all the marks of immaturity. The Cabinet itself was frequently the scene of internal dissensions, which naturally tended to weaken its influence very materially; and until this grave defect could be overcome, it was impossible that its legitimate authority could be properly exercised or appreciated. Incidental notices, scattered through contemporaneous writings, sufficiently betoken how far the Cabinet Council was at this time from being recognised as a distinct institution, with definite rules of practice and acknowledged responsibilities.

'Hallam, Const. Hist. iii. 390.


sence of

From the first introduction of an interior, or 'Cabinet' Council, in the reign of Charles II., until the time of Queen Anne, all deliberations therein upon affairs of state Deliberawere conducted in the presence of the sovereign." No ted in predoubt, during the frequent absences from the kingdom of the sovereign. William III., the ministers of the crown were permitted to meet and confer together on political questions, in an informal way. But the right of the king to be present at all such consultations was never disputed. It was Queen Anne's regular practice to preside at weekly Cabinet Councils, at which all public business, foreign and domestic, was debated and determined upon." It was only upon the accession of George I., who was incapable of speaking our language, that it became customary for ministers to hold Cabinet meetings by themselves, and to communicate the result of their discussions to the king by means of a leading member of the Cabinet, or some particular minister, whose department might be affected by the matter in hand. By the end of George II.'s reign, it had become unusual' for the sovereign to be present at consultations of the Cabinet. But we find an instance of the practice soon after the accession of George III." Since that period, however, the absence of the sovereign from Cabinet Councils may be considered as having been permanently engrafted into our constitution."

ences be


Meanwhile, ministers had gradually acquired the habit Private of meeting together, at stated intervals, usually at the confer house of the principal minister, to hold private confe- tween mirences upon state affairs. Thus, in Queen Anne's reign Dean Swift mentions that Mr. Harley, then the head of the administration, used to invite four or five of the leading ministers to dine with him every Saturday, and 'after dinner, they used to discourse and settle matters

Harris, Life of Hardwicke, vol. iii.

m See ante, pp. 66, 67.
Campbell, Chancellors, vol. iv. p. 231.

p. 287.

Campbell, Chancellors, vol. iii. p. 191, n. Hearn, Govt. of Eng.

• Hallam, vol. iii. p. 388.
Waldegrave's Memoirs, p. 66. p. 190.


in the Cabinet.

of great importance.' These meetings were not, however, always strictly confined to members of the administration, for the dean himself was frequently invited to join them." In the reign of George II. it would appear from Lord Hervey that the Cabinet meetings were held irregularly, and at no fixed times. Walpole, when first minister (17211742), met the whole Cabinet as seldom as possible, but often invited two or three of his colleagues to dinner, to talk over matters of business, and assist him in shaping his intended policy, the which for the most part he kept in his own hands. And afterwards, during the Grenville administration (1763-65), weekly Cabinet dinners' were again resorted to, as affording a convenient opportunity for mutual concert amongst ministers. These convivial assemblies were ordinarily attended only by the Lord Chancellor, the President of the Council, the First Lord of the Treasury, and the two Secretaries of State. But when important matters were to be discussed, requiring the advice of other ministers, having special acquaintance with the particular subject, or ability to give counsel thereupon, such were invited to be present.

As regards the individuals who, at this time, were with seats usually included in the Cabinet, and their relative weight and importance therein, we have no very precise information, although incidental notices in contemporary writers furnish some curious particulars. Thus, William III. is said to have appointed the Marquis of Normanby, as a mark of favour and distinction, to a seat in the 'Cabinet Council,' and yet to have never consulted' him; and Sir John Trenchard, who was Secretary of State from 1692 to 1695, though he bore the title and drew the salary,' 'was not trusted with any of the graver secrets of state,' and was little more than a superintendent of police.'t Marlborough was a member of the first Cabinet of

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