Изображения страниц

stronger proof of your unselfishness than by | implied charge of bad faith, and appealing to your signature to this treaty.

the confidential communications between the “But now to conclude! You think that two governments to show how open and sinwar might even be declared, yet you express cere were the intentions of the czar. This the hope that, for all that, it might still not was too much. As the challenge was given break out. I cannot, unfortunately, give it was accepted, and the memoranda were countenance to the hope that the declaration published. They led to other revelations, for will not be followed by immediate action. directly the French government learned with Shakspere's words:-

surprise what had been the course Russia had Beware

pursued, they informed their representatives Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in,

throughout Europe, that, from the moment Bear it, that the opposer may beware of thee'

Russia saw that England would not fall in have sunk deeply into every Englishman's with her views, she had tried to sow discord heart. Sad that they should find their appli- between England and France. Prince Gortcation here, where, in other circumstances, schakoff had, in November, 1853, proposed to personal friendship and liking would alone Count Béarn, the French minister at Stuttgart, prevail! What must be your majesty's state a solution of the Eastern question by means of mind at seeing them directed against a of an understanding between Russia and beloved brother-in-law, whom yet, much as France. In the course of what passed Prince you love him, your conscience cannot acquit Gortschakoff had declared, that he knew of the crime of having, by his arbitrary and England would throw over the Eastern quespassionate bearing, brought such vast misery tion as soon as she had got France fairly comupon the world !”

mitted. “She will in fact have helped you to This reply is a fair representation of the compromise yourselves, and will leave you all situation as it appeared, not only to English the embarrassment of a false and difficult ministers, but to the majority of thoughtful position. We have all grievances of our own Englishmen at the time; but there were other against this power. What a nice trick to thoughtful Englishmen--beside Richard Cob- play her would it be to come to an arrangeden and John Bright-who, though they were ment among ourselves without her! Trust not on the side of the czar, and would not have me! Distrust perfidious Albion!” This lanendorsed either the conduct or the mode of guage, and much more to the same effect, expression of the King of Prussia, would not Prince Gortschakoff stated that he was oftiaccept these representations as sufficient rea- cially authorized to hold. “I need not say," sons for a war which they believed was neither M. Drouyn de Lhuys writes in the circular necessary, justifiable, nor even expedient for note from which these quotations are made, the country.

" that our loyalty towards England and toThe attitude of the queen and of the minis- wards Europe forbade us to lend an ear to try with regard to the Emperor of Russia these insinuations.” 1 may well be attributed to the knowledge, But there was nearly an end to all thought that while professing to be anxious to conclude of negotiations or of further parley when a treaty with England after failing to induce on the 6th of March, 1854, Mr. Gladstone rose its government to conspire with him against to propose what was in reality a war budget. the existence of Turkey, he was using efforts His position was in many respects a painful with Austria, Prussia, and France, to prevent one, for both on financial and on much higher them from maintaining an alliance with us. grounds he had a real objection to the war; Lord John Russell had spoken in parliament but at the same time he could not take the implying the bad faith of the Russian govern

view of Mr. Cobden or of Mr. Bright, nor, ment, and this had led to an article in the Jour- the grounds of England's intervention being nal de St. Pétersbourg, which evidently came from the Russian chancery, repudiating the "Life of the Prince Consort, by Sir Theodore Martin.




at the time what they were, could he dis- relief of the country from taxation. He sociate himself from the government on utterly repudiated the “convenient, cowardly, account of it. Of course Mr. Kinglake, in and perhaps popular” course, as it was afterhis narrative of the exciting events connected wards called, of making up for the coming with the invasion of the Crimea, has some- extra expenditure by extensive borrowing. thing to say about Mr. Gladstone's position, It was inipossible to say that the estimate and the words are neither altogether true, nor, for the war would suffice for the wants of the as they have been often quoted, are they any whole year. That was the reason for proposing longer new. “ He had once,” says

the pungent to vote for extraordinary military expenditure historian of the war, “imagined it to be his a sum of £1,250,000. There was a deficiency duty to quit a government and to burst of nearly three millions to provide for, and through strong ties of friendship and gratitude even this did not exhaust the whole cost of by reason of a thin shade of difference on the the war. But while he hoped that this sum subject of white or brown sugar.

It was

might be raised without returning to the believed that if he were to commit even a higher duties, which had recently been dimlittle sin or to imagine an evil thought he inished on various articles, he urged strongly would instantly arraign himself before the that it should not be raised by resorting to a dread tribunal which awaited him within his loan, and so throwing the burden on posterity. own bosom, and that his intellect being subtle

Such a course

was not required by the and microscopic, and delighting in casuistry necessities of the country, and was therefore and exaggeration, he would be very likely to not worthy of its adoption. No country had give his soul a very harsh trial, and treat played so much as England at this dangerous himself as a great criminal for faults too game of mortgaging the industry of future minute to be visible to the naked eyes of lay- generations. It was right that those who

His friends lived in dread of his make war should be prepared to make the virtues as tending to make him whimsical sacrifices needed to carry it on; the necessity for and unstable, and the practical politicians so doing was a most useful check on mere lust perceiving that he was not to be depended of conquest, and would lead men to make war upon for party purposes, and was bent upon with the wish of realizing the earliest propone but lofty objects, used to look upon

him spects of an honourable peace. as dangerous, used to call him behind his We had entered upon a great struggle, but back a good mau,--a good man in the worst we had entered upon it under favourable cirsense of the term."

cumstances. “We have proposed to you to After all, this criticism, when analysed, make great efforts, and you have nobly and

, amounts to little other than an admission that cheerfully backed our proposals. You have alMr. Gladstone was constantly influenced by ready by your votes added nearly 40,000 men conscientious motives, against which neither to the establishments of the country; and ambition, nor the desire for place, nor the taking into account changes that have actually supposed claims of party, had any abiding been carried into effect with regard to the return influence. There are readers who will see in of soldiers from the colonies, and the arrangethe smart estimate of the satirist something ments which, in the present state of Ireland, which may remind them of the utterances of might be made--but which are not madethe prophet, who, going out to curse, used with respect to the constabulary force, in order what was really the language of blessing. At to render the military force disposable to the all events when the chancellor of the exche- utmost possible extent, it is not too much to quer rose to propose the new budget there say that we have virtually an addition to the was no paltering with the difficulties which disposable forces of the country, by land and were presented to him, though he had to by sea, at the present moment, as compared abandon the hopes that he had entertained with our position twelve months ago, to the of a policy of retrenchment and the further extent of nearly 50,000 men. This looks like an intention to carry on your war with vigour, | £17,750,000, as compared with £16,000,000, and the wish and hope of her majesty's gov

to which it had been reduced for the current ernment is, that that may be truly said of the period. people of England, with regard to this war, This financial scheme, bold, simple, and which was, I am afraid, not so truly said of effectual, met with the support of men who Charles II. by a courtly but great poet, Dry- were keen judges of finance, and among them den

was Joseph Hume, who accepted it on the • He without fear a dangerous war pursues,

ground that those who had urged the governWhich without rashness he began before.'

ment to a war, the propriety of which could not

yet be judged, should bear theirshare of its burThat, we trust, will be the motto of the people dens. This was one of the latest votes of the of England; and you have this advantage, veteran reformer, financier, and political econothat the sentiment of Europe, and we trust mist. He was seventy-eight years old, and died the might of Europe, is with you. These cir- in February of the following year (1855) after cumstances-though we must not be sanguine, a parliamentary career of forty-four years, dur

— though it would be the wildest presumption | ing which he did the country inestimable serfor any man to say, when the ravages of vice in watching the national expenditure and European war had once begun, where and at pointing out the means of reducing taxation. what point it would be stayed—these circum- The resolution for doubling the income-tax stances justify us in cherishing the hope that was passed without discussion or division, but possibly this may not be a long war." on the following day an amendment was

The plan was, as we have seen, to increase moved by Sir H. Willoughby to the effect that the income-tax, levying the whole addition for the collection of the additional moiety should and in respect of the first moiety of the year, extend over the whole year; and Mr. Disraeli, which was in effect to double the tax for the who had previously stated that he should not half year. The amount of the tax for 1854–55 oppose the vote, as the house was bound to was calculated at £6,275,000, and a moiety of support her majesty in all just and necessary that sum was £3,137,500; but as the cost of wars, came forward with a contention that the collection diminished in proportion to the government was only justified in levying inamount obtained the real moiety would be creased taxes if they could prove the war £3,307,000, so that the whole produce of the

to be unavoidable. It was of course pointed income-tax would be £9,582,000. The aggre- out that this argument was equivalent to gate income for the year would be £56,656,000, an expression of want of confidence and should and as the expenditure was estimated at have been followed by a proposed vote to £56,186,000 this would leave a small probable that effect, but the leader of the opposition surplus of £170,000. There were other changes would not listen to this argument, urged of commercial importance, one of which was that the government apparently had no conto abolish the distinction between home and fidence in the house or in themselves, quoted foreign drawn bills, which were thenceforward ministerial utterances to show what diverto pay the same rate of duty. As the addi- gence of opinion had existed on the questions to the revenue could not be realized tion whether there should be peace or war, before the end of the year, and a large sum was and declared that these differences had in fact immediately required to meet the expenses of produced the present state of affairs. The the war, he brought forward a resolution for war, he said, was “a coalition war,” and had a vote of £1,750,000 for an issue of exchequer the cabinet been united it would have been bills. It was not expected that it would be prevented altogether. Obviously if these argunecessary to exercise this permission to its full ments were potent against voting in favour of extent, but should the necessity arise the un- the budget they more than justified want of funded debt would only stand as it stood confidence, and Mr. Gladstone, in reply, chaltwelve months before, when its amount was | lenged that issue, saying that Mr. Disraeli



defended his omission to propose a vote of source £9,582,000, and the addition would want of confidence on the very grounds that give £3,250,000, amounting altogether to should have prompted it, and that his argu- £12,832,000. This augmentation would last ment had therefore reached an “illogical and during the continuance of the war, and should recreant” conclusion. He concluded by de- the war terminate during the existence of the fending the various provisions of his financial tax under the Act of 1853, the augmentation scheme, which was agreed to, the amendment

would cease.

The difficulty was to raise the being negatived.

remainder without either proposing any other But war had not yet been actually de- direct tax or reimposing taxes which had been clared, and the caution which he had exercised removed. To meet this difficulty, and to go to in pointing out that the provisions might be the consumer in the least oppressive and inonly temporary was soon afterwards justified. jurious way, it was proposed to repeat the On the 8th of May, almost directly after the operation of the previous year on Scotch and rejection of Lord John Russell's Reform Bill, Irish spirits, and to augment the duty in ScotMr. Gladstone had to bring forward additional land by 1s. per gallon, and in Ireland by 8d. proposals for meeting the enormous expendi- This would be a gain to the exchequer of ture which it was seen would be necessary for £450,000. By a readjustment of the sugar equipping and maintaining our army in the duties and a postponement of their reduction Crimea. It had been known that the first £700,000 would be raised. To the proposal to demand made on the country would not be augment the duty on malt considerable anadequate, and now it was evident that there tagonism was manifested by the opposition; must be a further claim made in order to but Mr. Gladstone went on to say that he conmeet the daily increasing cost, if we were to sidered we might fairly come upon the wealthy carry on the struggle upon which the nation for the first charges of the war, but that a had entered with such unanimous determina- national war ought to be borne by all classes. tion. Again Mr. Disraeli opposed the means This (ignoring the first part of the remark) that were proposed to augment the revenue,

Mr. Disraeli afterwards referred to as a kind and took the opportunity of defending the of communism. The argument in favour of financial scheme of the former government increasing the malt-tax, however, was that it when he was chancellor of the exchequer. pressed on all, and as it was easily collected, and With no little acerbity he attacked Mr. Glad required no increased staff for the purpose, it stone with an accusation of having been mis- seemed to fulfil the conditions which should be taken in paying off the South Sea stock, and sought for. The malt-tax stood, in round with having doubled the malt-tax to the de- figures, at 28. 9d. per bushel, and Mr. Gladstone triment of those whose interests he had de proposed to raise it to 4s., which would still leave serted; but these accusations were not alto- it lower than it was in 1810, and less than half gether new, and some of them had been met what it was from 1804 to 1816, during the already. That which it was necessary to great war struggle. Taking the consumpconsider was that a computed extra expendi- tion at forty million bushels, this would give ture of £6,800,000 had to be provided for, of £2,450,000. The united amounts thus to be which £500,000 was for the militia. In a obtained by increased income-tax, spirit duty, speech which lasted three hours, and aroused sugarduty, and malt duty, would be £6,850,000, the ministry and the house to the fact that which was the required sum. Mr. Gladstone this was more than a mere supplementary next stated that it was necessary to have a rebudget, and that it rose to the height of a source for extraordinary contingencies, and for new masterly plan for meeting the extraordi- a possible rapid increase in the rate of war exnary expenditure, the chancellor of the exche-penditure. He explained and vindicated his quer explained his scheme. He proposed policy with regard to the issue of exchequer to repeat the augmentation of the income-bonds, and unfolded his plan for providing tax, which had already yielded from this I the further interim funds which would be

required. He would take authority to confirm every way injured the agricultural interest of the contracts for the exchequer bonds of the the country. The financial proposals were, Class A, and power to issue a second series. however, carried by a large majority. There He would also take power to issue two millions was yet another sharp discussion between Mr. of exchequer bills, and so many more as should Disraeli and the chancellor of the exchequer. not be taken on the four millions of exche- A few days afterwards, on the subject of the quer bonds. This would give a command of resolution empowering the government to £5,500,000, and the total sum of £66,746,000 issue £2,000,000 of exchequer bonds, which of revenue, set against £63,039,000 of expen- was opposed by Mr. Baring, Mr. Disraeli diture, would show for the year a margin charged the government with mismanagement, which he would for safety put at three millions which had culminated in the necessity for and a half.

a loan of six millions; and this war in its Among the charges brought against him by turn had been so mismanaged that the chanhis rival was that of want of foresight in origin- cellor of the exchequer had offered four per ally bringing forward a peace budget where cent. for the money and yet could not get it. many useful and perhaps necessary means of “He had shown himself incompetent to deal obtaining revenue were abandoned—when war with the bulls and bears, and had been forced was so near as to seem inevitable. To this it to appeal to the stags of the Stock Exchange. was replied that it was hardly necessary for the And now came a last shift for raising a loan government to meet so absurd an accusation in masquerade.” To this it was answered that as that of the want of foresight, or to defend the exchequer bonds were for repayment at themselves for having believed that a sovereign a short period, and it had been the opposition of Europe was a man of honour. He met the who had really advocated the borrowing syscharge of having abandoned public revenue, tem and loans in masquerade. however, by asking in what state the govern- The scheme proposed to the house was eviment found the revenue when the income-tax dently too sound to be seriously affected by itself was in peril because Mr. Disraeli had this kind of opposition. The government had thought it consistent with his duty to his sove- a majority of 104, or 290 votes, while the opreign and his country to promise to remodel position only gained 186; and though, on the that tax without any plan for the purpose. The 26th of July, when Lord John Russell moved man who did that was the one who surrendered a vote of credit for £3,000,000, Mr. Disraeli public revenue. In concluding his speech, he again attacked the government, declaring that said that such was the vigour and elasticity of there would have been no war if the former our trade, that even under the disadvantages administration had remained in power, and of a bad harvest, and under the pressure of again complaining that it was largely due to war, the imports from day to day and almost the evil of a coalition government; the question from hour to hour were increasing, and the of a vote of credit had become identified with very last papers laid on the table showed that that of a vote of confidence, and no one venwithin the closing three months of the year tured to take such decided steps as might lead there were £250,000 increase in the exports. to the defeat and resignation of the ministry In the subsequent discussion Sir John Pak- at such a critical moment. ington, Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, and other speakers strongly opposed the government Mr. Gladstone had been one of the foremost policy, and Lord John Russell rose to reply to advocate the maintenance of peace by briefly, but effectively.

means of negotiations, and unlike many who Mr. Disraeli again declared that he sup- were of the same mind he had very little ported the policy of the war, but that he belief either in the soundness or the future objected to the malt-tax, since it was not progress and improvement of the Turkish merely unjust and unnecessary, but hampered institutions and government. His opinions on the industry, crippled the progress, and in that subject in 1854 differed little (though they


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »