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OUR readers are all aware that when Sir Robert Peel held the office of prime minister for a few brief months in the years 1834 and 1835, his efforts and those of his colleagues were earnestly directed to such safe and practicable reforms, as would satisfy the reasonable portion of the country that they were no enemies to the progress of improvement. Of this truth, no sound-hearted and well-judging man remained, at that time, to be convinced; and of the general falsehood of the opposite allegation, even the most stupidly illiberal and rancorous of the whig-radicals had begun to be suspicious;-as all their efforts were directed, not against any pernicious measure either undertaken, or supposed to be meditated, by the right honorable baronet, but against the proposal to give him a fair trial, which was all that he asked for, and wbich many of his former opponents seemed not indisposed to entertain;—a proposal, we may well believe, which would not have been so nalignantly resisted, if those by whom it was opposed were not well convinced that if conceded it must end in the falsification of their predictions.

Of the measures by the adoption of which Sir Robert proposed to prove his readiness to enter upon a course of salutary and constitutional change, which, while it was an evidence that he was not to be trammelled by any antiquated prejudice, would serve to bring the ecclesiastical establishment of the country into a condition better adapted to supply the spiritual wants VOL. XIV.

of the people, the Church Commission was, probably, the most important. By that he gave a pledge, that church property should be made available for church purposes, as far as it would go ; and that what might be ascertained to be excess, or superfluity, in one quarter, should be appropriated to the supply of acknowledged deficiencies in another. Against sinecures of every description, the commissioners, it was supposed, would wage interminable war; and the removal of such unsightly excresences, if it were only for the extinction of a topic of scandal, Sir Robert, and other well-meaning Conservative statesmen, no doubt, judged a measure by which they would procure present popu. larity, while they secured lasting repu tation.

But at this time the reform mania had not quite subsided. The city and the village Solons had not as yet unlearned the presumptuous ignorance which led them to undertake the repairs and the improvement of their timehonoured constitution. Even Lord Stanley and Sir James Grahain were still scarcely separated from the levellers, and could not be induced to declare their confidence in the new administration. Many, no doubt, were already alive to the mischiefs which must result from opening to any wider extent the flood-gates of democracy, and had even begun to feel and to deplore the rashness of heady and intemperate legislation. But, with the masses, Sir Robert Peel was still a selfish, narrow-minded, and unprincipled tory; and a vast deal of most


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