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required. He would take authority to confirm the contracts for the exchequer bonds of the Class A, and power to issue a second series. He would also take power to issue two millions of exchequer bills, and so many more as should not be taken on the four millions of exchequer bonds. This would give a command of £5,500,000, and the total sum of £66,746,000 | of revenue, set against £63,039,000 of expenditure, would show for the year a margin which he would for safety put at three millions and a half.
Among the charges brought against him by his rival was that of want of foresight in originally bringing forward a peace budget where many useful and perhaps necessary means of obtaining revenue were abandoned-when war was so near as to seem inevitable. To this it was replied that it was hardly necessary for the government to meet so absurd an accusation as that of the want of foresight, or to defend themselves for having believed that a sovereign of Europe was a man of honour. He met the charge of having abandoned public revenue, however, by asking in what state the government found the revenue when the income-tax itself was in peril because Mr. Disraeli had thought it consistent with his duty to his sovereign and his country to promise to remodel that tax without any plan for the purpose. The man who did that was the one who surrendered public revenue. In concluding his speech, he said that such was the vigour and elasticity of our trade, that even under the disadvantages of a bad harvest, and under the pressure of war, the imports from day to day and almost from hour to hour were increasing, and the very last papers laid on the table showed that within the closing three months of the year there were £250,000 increase in the exports. In the subsequent discussion Sir John Pakington, Sir E. Bulwer Lytton, and other speakers strongly opposed the government policy, and Lord John Russell rose to reply briefly, but effectively.
Mr. Disraeli again declared that he supported the policy of the war, but that he objected to the malt-tax, since it was not merely unjust and unnecessary, but hampered the industry, crippled the progress, and in
every way injured the agricultural interest of the country. The financial proposals were, however, carried by a large majority. There was yet another sharp discussion between Mr. Disraeli and the chancellor of the exchequer. A few days afterwards, on the subject of the resolution empowering the government to issue £2,000,000 of exchequer bonds, which was opposed by Mr. Baring, Mr. Disraeli charged the government with mismanagement, which had culminated in the necessity for a loan of six millions; and this war in its turn had been so mismanaged that the chancellor of the exchequer had offered four per cent. for the money and yet could not get it. "He had shown himself incompetent to deal with the bulls and bears, and had been forced to appeal to the stags of the Stock Exchange. And now came a last shift for raising a loan in masquerade." To this it was answered that the exchequer bonds were for repayment at a short period, and it had been the opposition who had really advocated the borrowing system and loans in masquerade.
The scheme proposed to the house was evidently too sound to be seriously affected by this kind of opposition. The government had a majority of 104, or 290 votes, while the opposition only gained 186; and though, on the 26th of July, when Lord John Russell moved a vote of credit for £3,000,000, Mr. Disraeli again attacked the government, declaring that there would have been no war if the former administration had remained in power, and again complaining that it was largely due to the evil of a coalition government; the question of a vote of credit had become identified with that of a vote of confidence, and no one ventured to take such decided steps as might lead to the defeat and resignation of the ministry at such a critical moment.
Mr. Gladstone had been one of the foremost to advocate the maintenance of peace by means of negotiations, and unlike many who were of the same mind he had very little belief either in the soundness or the future progress and improvement of the Turkish institutions and government. His opinions on that subject in 1854 differed little (though they
GLADSTONE'S FINANCIAL PREPARATIONS.
than 5000 inhabitants were to be disfranchised, and of these there were 19 boroughs returning 29 members.
Boroughs having fewer than 500 electors or than 10,000 inhabitants, and returning two members, were in future to return one member only, and these amounted to thirty-three; but on the other hand, counties and divisions of counties containing a population of more than 100,000 each, and returning two members, were in future to return three members. Of these there were thirty-eight; while two divisions of counties (South Lancashire and the West Riding of York) were to be subdivided and each subdivision was to return three members.
Cities and boroughs were also to return additional members. Those containing more than 100,000 inhabitants, and returning only two members, were in future to return three; and boroughs returning only one member were to return two. Thus ten additional members would be returned, and six additional members were to be secured by giving representation by one member to Birkenhead, Burnley, Staley bridge, by two members to the Inns of Court, and one to the London University.
One clause deserves particular attention. The city of London was to continue to return four members, but each elector was to have only three votes-the effect being to give an opportunity for that representation of minorities which has been more fully recognized in recent changes in the system of parliamentary representation.
seen, and the other three were to be given to populous towns, and to one university in Scotland.
It soon became evident that the temper neither of the house nor of the country was in favour of passing the bill. On the 13th of February, in bringing it forward, amidst strong expressions of dissent, Lord John Russell had said: "I cannot think that there is any danger in discussing the question of reform during the excitement of a foreign war. The time that is really dangerous for such a discussion is the time of great popular excitement and dissension at home. It is said that there is no feeling on the subject; that there is a complete apathy about reform. If that really is the case, is it not the proper time to discuss questions of reform, lest in the course of the war there should be times of distress when the people should become excited, and large meetings should be assembled in every town, partly crying out for more wages and cheaper food, and partly crying out for an increase of political power? Supposing we should have the calamity of war, and with it the necessity for increasing the public burdens, is it not a fitting time to enlarge the privileges of the people when parliament is imposing fresh taxes, that in imposing them we may as far as possible impose them on those who have elected us?" There was much serious truth in this, and the fact that the bill was rejected by the house and by the country because of the war fever, no other measure being brought forward in its place, doubtless afforded a new argument for those very few persons who, at the time, were utterly opposed to fighting; but rejected it was, and what was more, the people immediately submitted to an enormous additional imposition of taxes for the purpose of carrying on the conflict which was now imminent.
It will be seen that this scheme admitted the £10 householder to the county franchise, and at the first glance it would have seemed to make the manufacture or purchase of the right to vote both cheap and easy; but to prevent this, the building was to be rated at £5 a year unless the voter was actually resident. Lord John expressly stated that the borough franchise was made to follow a £6 municipal rating for the purpose of admitting a larger number of the working-classes of the country, for whom the Reform Act had not made sufficient provision. There would have been sixtysix vacancies under his scheme; sixty-three of these were to be apportioned as we have tion nor the temper of the house was favour
On the 10th of April the proposed measure was withdrawn. The government to whom it belonged gave it but a half-hearted support, and it was evident that there was little chance of its being carried. It had been carefully prepared, and Lord John Russell had apparently intended to stake his reputation upon it, but neither the time of its presenta
able to its reception. Probably Lord John alone felt deeply the necessity for withdrawing it, but he was much overcome, and towards the close of his remarks, in referring to the existence of some suspicion of his motives, his voice was stifled and he spoke through tears; but a simultaneous burst of cheering broke forth from all parts of the house, and was again and again repeated. "If I have done anything in the cause of reform," continued his lordship with emotion, "I trust that I have deserved some degree of confidence; but at all events, I feel if I do not possess that confidence I shall be of no use to the crown or to the country, and I can no longer hold the position I now occupy. These are times of no ordinary importance, and questions arise of the utmost difficulty. I shall endeavour to arrive at those conclusions which will be for the best interests of the crown and the country, and I trust that I may meet with support." The whole attitude of Lord John Russell at this time, conveys an impression of feebleness and uncertainty; and he may be said to have commenced the series of resignations by which this coalition ministry became distinguished; but he had done too good work for the country and was too able and gifted a statesman to be treated otherwise than with sympathy and respect. When he sat down, expressions of admiration for his character and esteem for his consistency, were numerous and genuine, and among the more prominent speakers, Mr. Disraeli, while utterly opposing many of the details of the measure which had been withdrawn, professed his cordial respect for Lord John, and declared "his character and career" to be "precious possessions of the House of Commons."
While scarcely anybody could be found in a humour for considering questions of parliamentary reform, or any other measures demanding long and careful debate, everybody was anxiously waiting for the more immediately essential statement of the chancellor of the exchequer. The question was being asked everywhere, "What will Gladstone do?" and the answer mostly was, "Oh, depend upon it, he has some original plan for raising the revenue to carry on the war.”
There could scarcely have been a more anxious trial for a financial reformer than that which demanded, if not a reversal, a complete change of a budget intended to relieve the country from pressing burdens, and made it necessary to impose new taxes for the purpose of meeting sudden and almost alarming expenditure; but Mr. Gladstone was already equal to the occasion, and the country had sufficient confidence in his ability and his honesty to accept his statements and to submit without much flinching to the burdens which he reluctantly but decisively laid upon it. Indeed, his former budget, even for the short time that it had been in operation, was well calculated to inspire that confidence. He had estimated the revenue of the country for the year 1853-54, after all the reductions which had been effected, at £52,990,000, and it had reached £54,025,000, while the expenditure had been a million less than the sum at which it had been computed, so that he had two millions in hand; an amount which, small as it was, in view of the enormous estimates to be provided for, would have encouraged many ministers to devise a scheme for bringing forward a contingent budget postponing the means of payment, for what might or might not be a long-continued war, to some future period, when it would be met only by an increment of taxation, or by a permanent burden on succeeding generations. Mr. Gladstone at once emphatically repudiated any such intention, and practically announced his determination as far as possible to raise during the year the funds that would be required to meet, not only the ordinary, but the extraordinary expenses. Thoughtful and sagacious politicians truly characterized this determination as honest and courageous, and the opinion was endorsed by the nation even when, as a necessary provision for carrying that policy into effect, it was proposed to double the income-tax, to increase the duty on Scotch and Irish spirits, and to raise the malt-tax. The expenses of the war were to be paid out of current revenue, provided they did not amount to more than ten millions sterling beyond the ordinary expenditure, and £1,250,000 was to be at once voted for the expenses of
THE KING OF PRUSSIA'S WHINING LETTER.
the army of the East, a sum which was calcu-
In England the character ascribed to the
indulgent sovereign, with just enough culture to be dilettante, and with a decided liking for the pleasures of the table. He was nicknamed "Clicquot" because he was supposed to be fond of champagne, and the common caricatures represented him dividing his attention between that exhilarating beverage and Strasbourg pie or German sausage. There was no sufficient reason for this estimate of his habits, and it is pretty certain that he really possessed considerable culture and liked intellectual pursuits; but he was weak in more than one respect, and his subsequent mental disorder in 1858 was perhaps not very surprising. Had his brother William been on the throne in 1853 instead of becoming his regent in 1858 and afterwards succeeding him, there is no telling what might have happened. Probably there would have been no Crimean war, but as it was, Prussia occupied the unenviable position of alternately crouching before Russia, and endeavouring to justify the attitude by asserting a right to sustain a moral and political neutrality. After having, by his anxiety not to offend his brother-in-law, reduced Prussian influence to a mere feeble coincidence with our remonstrance against the misinterpretation of the Vienna note, Frederick William appeared to be alarmed lest the czar should suspect him of being too decidedly opposed to him. The feeling against him in England was unmistakable. "The irritation here against the Prussian court," said Prince Albert, "is very great, and not undeserved. After it had caused intimation to be made of its dread of France, and we had procured a declaration for them that no territorial aggrandizement of any kind would be accepted by that nation, they now affect a fear of Russia, as though Prussia must be swallowed up in a moment." But it was at this juncture that the King of Prussia thought he might interpose by sending two letters, one of a private and one of an official character, to the Queen of England. These were specially despatched by a cavalry officer almost immediately after the czar's proposals had been negatived at Vienna, and their avowed intention was to induce the queen to reconsider those proposals, as though she could in any sense act independently of the decisions