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THE QUEEN'S SPIRITED ANSWER.
were directly contrary to its meaning. Your majesty's envoy has taken part in this conference and its decision, and when your majesty says, 'Where the vocation of diplomacy ends, there that of the sovereign may with propriety begin,' I cannot concur in any such line of demarcation, for what my ambassador does he does in my name, and consequently I feel myself not only bound in honour, but also constrained by an imperative obligation to accept the consequences, whatever they may be, of the line which he has been directed to adopt.
"The consequences of a war, frightful and incalculable as they are, are as distressing to me to contemplate as they are to your majesty. I am also aware that the Emperor of Russia does not wish for war. But he makes demands upon the Porte which the united European powers, yourself included, have solemnly declared to be incompatible with the independence of the Porte and the equilibrium of Europe. In view of this declaration, and of the presence of the Russian army of invasion in the principalities, the powers must be prepared to support their words by acts. If the Turk now retires into the background, and the impending war appears to you to be a 'war for an idea,' the reason is simply this, that the very motives which urge on the emperor, in spite of the protest of all Europe, and at the risk of a war that may devastate the world, to persist in his demands, disclose a determination to realize a fixed idea, and that the grand ulterior consequences of the war must be regarded as far more important than its original ostensible cause, which in the beginning appeared to be neither more nor less than the key of the back-door of a mosque.
"Your majesty calls upon me 'to probe the question to the bottom in the spirit and love of peace, and to build a bridge for the imperial honour.' . . All the devices and ingenuity of diplomacy and also of goodwill have been squandered during the last nine months in vain attempts to build up such a bridge! Projets de notes, conventions, protocols, &c. &c., by the dozen have emanated from the chanceries of the different powers,
and the ink that has gone to the penning of them might well be called a second Black Sea. But every one of them has been wrecked upon the self-will of your imperial brother-inlaw.
"When your majesty tells me 'that you are now determined to assume an attitude of complete neutrality,' and that in this mind you appeal to your people, who exclaim with sound practical sense, 'It is to the Turk that violence has been done; the Turk has plenty of good friends, and the emperor has done us no harm,'--I do not understand you. Had such language fallen from the King of Hanover or of Saxony I could have understood it. But up to the present hour I have regarded Prussia as one of the five Great Powers, which since the peace of 1815 have been the guarantors of treaties, the guardians of civilization, the champions of right, and ultimate arbitrators of the nations; and I have for my part felt the holy duty to which they were thus divinely called, being at the same time perfectly alive to the obligations, serious as these are and fraught with danger, which it imposes. Renounce these obligations, my dear brother, and in doing so you renounce for Prussia the status she has hitherto held. And if the example thus set should find imitators, European civilization is abandoned as a plaything for the winds; right will no longer find a champion, nor the oppressed an umpire to appeal to.
"Let not your majesty think that my object in what I have said is to persuade you to change your determination. So little have I it in my purpose to seek to persuade you, that nothing has pained me more than the suspicion expressed through General von der Gröben in your name, that it was the wish of England to lead you into temptation by holding out the prospect of certain advantages. The groundlessness of such an assumption is apparent from the very terms of the treaty which was offered to you, the most important clause of which was that by which the contracting parties pledged themselves under no circumstances to seek to obtain from the war any advantage to themselves. Your majesty could not possibly have given any
tions which he sustained to the country to which he was never weary of giving his best and worthiest efforts. But there was no real need of vindication even at the time. Singularly enough, directly it was known that Lord Palmerston had withdrawn his resignation, many of those papers which had been foremost in their imputations withdrew them with the utmost facility. Whether Palmerston had or had not anything to do with the storm of invective that had been raised, it abated directly it was discovered that he had no need of that mode of accounting for his supposed retirement from the councils of the state. But the accusations had the effect of raising a violent uproar in the country. As the Spectator said, a whisper which was first insinuated for party purposes had grown into a roar, and a constructive hint had swelled into a positive and monstrous fiction. The story, not only told in all parts of England, but by some believed, was, that Prince Albert was a traitor to his queen, that he had been impeached for high treason, and finally that on a charge of high treason he had been arrested and committed to the Tower. Nay, the public appetite having grown by what it fed on went beyond this, and there was a report that the queen herself had been arrested.
"You will scarcely credit," wrote the prince to Stockmar, "that my being committed to the Tower was believed all over the country | -nay, even that the queen had been arrested! People surrounded the Tower in thousands to see us brought to it! On the other hand, I hear from Manchester, where Bright, Cobden, Gibson, Wilson, &c., held their annual meeting, that they made very light of it, and laughed at all the accusations."
They were just the men who were likely to treat such rumours with a kind of humorous contempt, for they knew well enough what were the means likely to be taken by a certain class of political opponents to foment popular prejudice. It is only fair to admit, however, that the same sort of disdain may have prevented Palmerston from contradicting the declaration that he was responsible for the growth of the scandals with which Prince Albert was assailed. That he had on
the former occasion originated expressions of antagonism to the court there was no denying, and it, therefore, did not seem improbable that such expressions had been repeated, or that he had imputed to the prince influences which were opposed to him and to his policy, and were therefore, in his opinion, antagonistic to English interests, for Palmerston had a very sincere belief that the two things were inseparable if not identical.
Once during the contention Palmerston did give a denial, but it was not a very conclusive A long time previously a pamphlet had, it appears, been prepared, setting forth the inimical and adverse position of the prince in relation to the state, and this was now referred to by the newspapers, with an insinuation, not only that Lord Palmerston had handed to the writer of the pamphlet, proofs of the prince's misdoings and copies of his alleged secret correspondence, but that the prince had bought up the copies of the work, suppressed its publication, and made friends with Palmerston in order to screen himself. At the same time it was intimated that there were still some copies in existence, and republication was threatened. Palmerston thereupon wrote to the Morning Post, declaring that he neither got the pamphlet written nor gave up any documents whatever, but that he had, on the contrary, entreated that the pamphlet might not appear. This was evidently saying too much or not enough, and it was followed by the publication of the pamphlet in the columns of another paper; not, probably, by any connivance of Palmerston, for, as Prince Albert afterwards remarked, it was a miserable performance, which could really hurt no one but Lord Palmerston himself, as it accused the court and Lord John Russell of having intrigued to subject Lord Palmerston falsely to the stigma of having cried up the coup d'état, with the conviction that a false belief on this head was calculated to do him serious injury! As, however, it had already been proved in parliament that Palmerston had supported the coup d'état, it seemed scarcely likely that he would have wished this representation to be revived or to be made public. There had been a very decided antagonism between the prince
PRINCE ALBERT'S POSITION IN THE STATE.
and the ex-foreign secretary ever since the queen's remonstrances on the subject of the despatches, which led to Palmerston's dismissal from the Russell administration, but there was a tendency to make Palmerston responsible for more than really belonged to him, and it was one of his characteristics to let things alone when they only involved his personal claims. He would not take the trouble to defend himself apart from his official position, and, strange as it may seem, he claimed the right to abstain from personally defending himself against the complaints of the queen, on the ground that it would ill become him to have any altercation with the sovereign. The same feeling might have prevented what could only have been an indignant denial of having been responsible for the imputations made against the prince consort, and though there can be little doubt that he had given rather too free expression to the suspicion that the dislike of the court had influenced the attitude of the cabinet towards his policy, it appears to have been admitted by Prince Albert himself that the slanders which were levelled at the throne during the Aberdeen ministry were not wholly attributable to this source.
"One main element," he wrote to Stockmar, "is the hostility and settled bitterness of the old high Tory or Protectionist party against me on account of my friendship with the late Sir Robert Peel, and of my success with the Exhibition. Their fury knew no bounds, when by Palmerston's return to the ministry that party (which is now at variance with Disraeli) lost the chance of securing a leader in the Lower House, who would have overthrown the ministry with the cry for English honour and independence, and against parliamentary reform, which is by no means popular. Hatred of the Peelites is stronger in the old party than ever, and Aberdeen is regarded as his representative. To discredit him would have this further advantage, that, if he could be upset, the keystone of the arch of coalition would be smashed, and it must fall to pieces; then Palmerston and John Russell would have to separate, and the former would take the place he has long coveted of leader to the Conservatives and Radicals. For the same
reason, however, it must be our interest to support Aberdeen, in order to keep the structure standing. Fresh reason for the animosity towards us. So the old game was renewed which was played against Melbourne after the queen's accession, of attacking the court, so as to make it clear, both to it and to the public, that a continuance of Aberdeen in office must endanger the popularity of the crown.”
Another element of opposition, the prince declared, was the appointment of Lord Hardinge as commander-in-chief instead of Fitzroy Somerset (Lord Raglan), who had for thirty years been military secretary under the Duke of Wellington. It was assumed that the appointment of Lord Hardinge was due to the prince, who had since the death of the Duke of Wellington been in constant confidential communication with him on military matters relating chiefly to arms and equipments. But the matter really at issue was the actual position which the prince was entitled to assume as one of the council, and as the husband and therefore the adviser of the queen, and on this subject he knew well public opinion must pronounce in spite of calumnies which, it could be shown, were without the slightest foundation, and of misrepresentations which could be refuted directly they were plainly met. He knew, and it was, he believed, time the nation knew, he had long outgrown his first neutral position, and that, after constant study and unremitting attention to public matters, he could not, and should not, remain unconcerned with political affairs or rather with those affairs of state in which, as the natural counsellor as well as the private secretary of the queen, he had a legitimate interest deepened by observation and experience.
A very considerable section of the nation," he wrote to his old friend and counsellor, "had never given itself the trouble to consider what really is the position of the husband of a queen regnant. When I first came over here I was met by this want of knowledge and unwillingness to give a thought to the position of this luckless personage. Peel cut down my income, Wellington refused me my rank, the royal
an intention to carry on your war with vigour, | £17,750,000, as compared with £16,000,000, to which it had been reduced for the current period.
and the wish and hope of her majesty's government is, that that may be truly said of the people of England, with regard to this war, which was, I am afraid, not so truly said of Charles II. by a courtly but great poet, Dry
This financial scheme, bold, simple, and effectual, met with the support of men who were keen judges of finance, and among them was Joseph Hume, who accepted it on the ground that those who had urged the government to a war, the propriety of which could not yet be judged, should bear their share of its burdens. This was one of the latest votes of the veteran reformer, financier, and political economist. He was seventy-eight years old, and died in February of the following year (1855) after a parliamentary career of forty-four years, during which he did the country inestimable service in watching the national expenditure and pointing out the means of reducing taxation. The resolution for doubling the income-tax was passed without discussion or division, but on the following day an amendment was moved by Sir H. Willoughby to the effect that the collection of the additional moiety should extend over the whole year; and Mr. Disraeli, who had previously stated that he should not oppose the vote, as the house was bound to support her majesty in all just and necessary wars, came forward with a contention that the government was only justified in levying increased taxes if they could prove the war to be unavoidable. It was of course pointed out that this argument was equivalent to an expression of want of confidence and should have been followed by a proposed vote to that effect, but the leader of the opposition would not listen to this argument, urged that the government apparently had no confidence in the house or in themselves, quoted ministerial utterances to show what divergence of opinion had existed on the question whether there should be peace or war, and declared that these differences had in fact produced the present state of affairs. The war, he said, was "a coalition war," and had the cabinet been united it would have been prevented altogether. Obviously if these arguments were potent against voting in favour of the budget they more than justified want of confidence, and Mr. Gladstone, in reply, challenged that issue, saying that Mr. Disraeli
He without fear a dangerous war pursues,
That, we trust, will be the motto of the people of England; and you have this advantage, that the sentiment of Europe, and we trust the might of Europe, is with you. These circumstances though we must not be sanguine, though it would be the wildest presumption for any man to say, when the ravages of European war had once begun, where and at what point it would be stayed-these circumstances justify us in cherishing the hope that possibly this may not be a long war."
The plan was, as we have seen, to increase the income-tax, levying the whole addition for and in respect of the first moiety of the year, which was in effect to double the tax for the half year. The amount of the tax for 1854-55 was calculated at £6,275,000, and a moiety of that sum was £3,137,500; but as the cost of collection diminished in proportion to the amount obtained the real moiety would be £3,307,000, so that the whole produce of the income-tax would be £9,582,000. The aggregate income for the year would be £56,656,000, and as the expenditure was estimated at £56,186,000 this would leave a small probable surplus of £470,000. There were other changes of commercial importance, one of which was to abolish the distinction between home and foreign drawn bills, which were thenceforward to pay the same rate of duty. As the additions to the revenue could not be realized before the end of the year, and a large sum was immediately required to meet the expenses of the war, he brought forward a resolution for a vote of £1,750,000 for an issue of exchequer bills. It was not expected that it would be necessary to exercise this permission to its full extent, but should the necessity arise the unfunded debt would only stand as it stood twelve months before, when its amount was
EXTENSION OF GLADSTONE'S FINANCIAL SCHEME.
defended his omission to propose a vote of want of confidence on the very grounds that should have prompted it, and that his argument had therefore reached an "illogical and recreant" conclusion. He concluded by defending the various provisions of his financial scheme, which was agreed to, the amendment being negatived.
But war had not yet been actually declared, and the caution which he had exercised in pointing out that the provisions might be only temporary was soon afterwards justified. On the 8th of May, almost directly after the rejection of Lord John Russell's Reform Bill, Mr. Gladstone had to bring forward additional proposals for meeting the enormous expenditure which it was seen would be necessary for equipping and maintaining our army in the Crimea. It had been known that the first demand made on the country would not be adequate, and now it was evident that there must be a further claim made in order to meet the daily increasing cost, if we were to carry on the struggle upon which the nation had entered with such unanimous determination. Again Mr. Disraeli opposed the means that were proposed to augment the revenue, and took the opportunity of defending the financial scheme of the former government when he was chancellor of the exchequer. With no little acerbity he attacked Mr. Gladstone with an accusation of having been mistaken in paying off the South Sea stock, and with having doubled the malt-tax to the detriment of those whose interests he had deserted; but these accusations were not altogether new, and some of them had been met already. That which it was necessary to consider was that a computed extra expenditure of £6,800,000 had to be provided for, of which £500,000 was for the militia. In a speech which lasted three hours, and aroused the ministry and the house to the fact that this was more than a mere supplementary budget, and that it rose to the height of a new masterly plan for meeting the extraordinary expenditure, the chancellor of the exchequer explained his scheme. He proposed to repeat the augmentation of the incometax, which had already yielded from this
source £9,582,000, and the addition would give £3,250,000, amounting altogether to £12,832,000. This augmentation would last during the continuance of the war, and should the war terminate during the existence of the tax under the Act of 1853, the augmentation would cease. The difficulty was to raise the remainder without either proposing any other direct tax or reimposing taxes which had been removed. To meet this difficulty, and to go to the consumer in the least oppressive and injurious way, it was proposed to repeat the operation of the previous year on Scotch and Irish spirits, and to augment the duty in Scotland by 18. per gallon, and in Ireland by 8d. This would be a gain to the exchequer of £450,000. By a readjustment of the sugar duties and a postponement of their reduction £700,000 would be raised. To the proposal to augment the duty on malt considerable antagonism was manifested by the opposition; but Mr. Gladstone went on to say that he considered we might fairly come upon the wealthy for the first charges of the war, but that a national war ought to be borne by all classes. This (ignoring the first part of the remark) Mr. Disraeli afterwards referred to as a kind of communism. The argument in favour of increasing the malt-tax, however, was that it pressed on all, and as it was easily collected, and required no increased staff for the purpose, it seemed to fulfil the conditions which should be sought for. The malt-tax stood, in round figures, at 28. 9d. per bushel, and Mr. Gladstone proposed to raise it to 4s., which would still leave it lower than it was in 1810, and less than half what it was from 1804 to 1816, during the great war struggle. Taking the consumption at forty million bushels, this would give £2,450,000. The united amounts thus to be obtained by increased income-tax, spirit duty, sugar duty, and malt duty, would be £6,850,000, which was the required sum. Mr. Gladstone next stated that it was necessary to have a resource for extraordinary contingencies, and for a possible rapid increase in the rate of war expenditure. He explained and vindicated his policy with regard to the issue of exchequer bonds, and unfolded his plan for providing the further interim funds which would be