THE DAYS OF MAY
fools and fanatics. It was announced in its principles by the Times and other newspapers, who declared that the people would pay no taxes till Lord Grey came back, that the middle and working classes were united and prepared to fight if troups were sent against them; but that till Wellington actually took office the word was 'peace, order, and no taxes.'
It is most strange, that while men were crying from the housetops that there would be armed resistance if the Duke came in, neither he, Peel, nor Croker, neither Grey, Holland, nor Althorp, discussed it in their letters and speeches as relevant to the question whether the Duke should take office. One cannot but suspect that it secretly influenced their minds, though they thought that 'noblesse' obliged them to avoid aliusion to a subject so indecorous and unconstitutional.
The news that Wellington had on May 15 abandoned his attempt to form a Cabinet spread next day over the land, and for a few hours relaxed the tension. But presentlyl) it was discovered that all was still at issue2). The King had not really yielded. He had only asked Lord Grey to continue in office and to pass the Bill; but he still refused to make peers, trusting that Wellington would ease matters by withdrawing his opposition. The Duke, however, refused to do anything more than abstain from voting as an individual peer. Even now he would not, as a party leader, call off the opposition, because to do so would be to yield to the unconstitutional threat of peer making 1
On May 17 Grey came down to the House, expecting to hear the Duke deprecate further opposition, and prepared in return to announce the Ministerial crisis at an end. Instead of this, he heard himself fiercely assailed for his unconstitutional
1. presently: shortly afterwards.
2. to be at issue: to be undecided, uncertain.