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GLADSTONE'S FINANCIAL PREPARATIONS.
than 5000 inhabitants were to be disfran- seen, and the other three were to be given to chised, and of these there were 19 boroughs populous towns, and to one university in returning 29 members.
Scotland. Boroughs having fewer than 500 electors or It soon became evident that the temper than 10,000 inhabitants, and returning two
neither of the house nor of the country was in members, were in future to return one mem- favour of passing the bill. On the 13th of ber only, and these amounted to thirty-three; February, in bringing it forward, amidst strong but on the other hand, counties and divisions expressions of dissent, Lord John Russell had of counties containing a population of more
said: “I cannot think that there is any danger than 100,000 each, and returning two members, in discussing the question of reform during the were in future to return three members. Of excitement of a foreign war. The time that these there were thirty-eight; while two divi- is really dangerous for such a discussion is the sions of counties (South Lancashire and the time of great popular excitement and dissenWest Riding of York) were to be subdivided sion at home. It is said that there is no and each subdivision was to return three feeling on the subject; that there is a commembers.
plete apathy about reform. If that really is Cities and boroughs were also to return the case, is it not the proper time to discuss additional members. Those containing more questions of reform, lest in the course of the than 100,000 inhabitants, and returning only war there should be times of distress when the two members, were in future to return three; people should become excited, and large meetand boroughs returning only one member were ings should be assembled in every town, partly to return two. Thus ten additional members crying out for more wages and cheaper food, would be returned, and six additional mem- and partly crying out for an increase of political bers were to be secured by giving representa- power? Supposing we should have the calation by one member to Birkenhead, Burnley, mity of war, and with it the necessity for inStaleybridge, by two members to the Inns of creasing the public burdens, is it not a fitting Court, and one to the London University. time to enlarge the privileges of the people
One clause deserves particular attention. when parliament is imposing fresh taxes, that The city of London was to continue to return in imposing them we may as far as possible four members, but each elector was to have impose them on those who have elected us?" only three votes--the effect being to give an There was much serious truth in this, and the opportunity for that representation of min- fact that the bill was rejected by the house orities which has been more fully recognized and by the country because of the war fever, in recent changes in the system of parliamen- no other measure being brought forward in tary representation.
its place, doubtless afforded a new argument It will be seen that this scheme admitted for those
few persons who, at the time, the £10 householder to the county franchise, were utterly opposed to fighting; but rejected and at the first glance it would have seemed it was, and what was more, the people immeto make the manufacture or purchase of the diately submitted to an enormous additional right to vote both cheap and easy; but to pre- imposition of taxes for the purpose of carryvent this, the building was to be rated at £5 | ing on the conflict which was now imminent. a year unless the voter was actually resident. On the 10th of April the proposed measure Lord John expressly stated that the borough was withdrawn. The government to whom franchise was made to follow a £6 municipal it belonged gave it but a balf-hearted support, rating for the purpose of admitting a larger and it was evident that there was little number of the working-classes of the country, chance of its being carried. It had been for whom the Reform Act had not made suffi- carefully prepared, and Lord John Russell had cient provision. There would have been sixty- apparently intended to stake his reputation six vacancies under his scheme; sixty-three upon it, but neither the time of its presentaof these were to be apportioned as we have tion nor the temper of the house was favourable to its reception. Probably Lord John There could scarcely have been a more alone felt deeply the necessity for withdrawing anxious trial for a financial reformer than that it, but he was much overcome, and towards which demanded, if not a reversal, a complete the close of his remarks, in referring to the change of a budget intended to relieve the existence of some suspicion of his motives, country from pressing burdens, and made it his voice was stifled and he spoke through necessary to impose new taxes for the purpose tears; but a simultaneous burst of cheering of meeting sudden and almost alarming exbroke forth from all parts of the house, and penditure; but Mr. Gladstone was already was again and again repeated. "If I have equal to the occasion, and the country had done anything in the cause of reform,” con- sufficient confidence in his ability and his tinued his lordship with emotion, “I trust honesty to accept his statements and to submit that I have deserved some degree of confidence; without much flinching to the burdens which but at all events, I feel if I do not possess he reluctantly but decisively laid upon it. that confidence I shall be of no use to the Indeed, his former budget, even for the short crown or to the country, and I can no longer time that it had been in operation, was well hold the position I now occupy. These are calculated to inspire that confidence. He had times of no ordinary importance, and questions estimated the revenue of the country for the arise of the utmost difficulty. I shall endea- year 1853–54, after all the reductions which vour to arrive at those conclusions which will had been effected, at £52,990,000, and it had be for the best interests of the crown and the reached £54,025,000, while the expenditure country, and I trust that I may meet with had been a million less than the sum at which support.” The whole attitude of Lord John it had been computed, so that he had two Russell at this time, conveys an impression of millions in hand; an amount which, small as feebleness and uncertainty; and he may be it was, in view of the enormous estimates to said to have commenced the series of resig- be provided for, would have encouraged many nations by which this coalition ministry be- ministers to devise a scheme for bringing forcame distinguished; but he had done too ward a contingent budget postponing the good work for the country and was too able means of payment, for what might or might and gifted a statesman to be treated other- not be a long-continued war, to some future wise than with sympathy and respect. When period, when it would be met only by an he sat down, expressions of admiration for his increment of taxation, or by a permanent character and esteem for his consistency, were burden on succeeding generations. Mr. Gladnumerous and genuine, and among the more stone at once emphatically repudiated any prominent speakers, Mr. Disraeli, while utter- such intention, and practically announced his ly opposing many of the details of the mea- determination as far as possible to raise dursure which had been withdrawn, professed his ing the year the funds that would be required cordial respect for Lord John, and declared to meet, not only the ordinary, but the extra“his character and career” to be “precious ordinary expenses. Thoughtful and sagacious possessions of the House of Commons.” politicians truly characterized this determi
While scarcely anybody could be found nation as honest and courageous, and the in a humour for considering questions of opinion was endorsed by the nation even when, parliamentary reform, or any other measures as a necessary provision for carrying that demanding long and careful debate, every- policy into effect, it was proposed to double the body was anxiously waiting for the more income-tax, to increase the duty on Scotch immediately essential statement of the chan- and Irish spirits, and to raise the malt-tax. cellor of the exchequer. The question was The expenses of the war were to be paid out being asked everywhere, “What will Glad- of current revenue, provided they did not stone do?" and the answer mostly was, “Oh, amount to more than ten millions sterling bedepend upon it, he has some original plan for yond the ordinary expenditure, and £1,250,000 raising the revenue to carry on the war." was to be at once voted for the expenses of
THE KING OF PRUSSIA'S WHINING LETTER.
of the East, a sum which was calcu- indulgent sovereign, with just enough culture lated to represent £50 a head for 25,000 men. to be dilettante, and with a decided liking be very well understood that to
for the pleasures of the table. He was nickmake these large demands on the country at a named “ Clicquot” because he was supposed time when, but for the growing demands of to be fond of champagne, and the common army and navy, he would have been looking for- caricatures represented him dividing his attenward to further important reductions of taxa- tion between that exhilarating beverage and tion was a deep disappointment to a statesman Strasbourg pie or German sausage. There who shared the reluctance of Lord Aberdeen was no sufficient reason for this estimate of his and others to enter into hostilities at all. There habits, and it is pretty certain that he really was, however, as he believed, no other course possessed considerable culture and liked intelto adopt, as war was inevitable, than so to lectual pursuits; but he was weak in more than provide for it as to make it effectual towards one respect, and his subsequent mental disthe speedy settlement of a lasting peace. Pro- order in 1858 was perhaps not very surprising. bably Mr. Gladstone differed from Mr. Cob- Had his brother William been on the throne in den and Mr. Bright only inasmuch as he 1853 instead of becoming his regent in 1858 could not admit that the utmost moral inter- and afterwards succeeding him, there is no position might be used and yet that material telling what might have happened. Probably interference as a resort to physical force could there would have been no Crimean war, but seldom or never be justified. With regard to as it was, Prussia occupied the unenviable posithe approaching war with Russia for the de- tion of alternately crouching before Russia, and fence of the Ottoman Porte he may reasonably endeavouring to justify the attitude by assertbave considered that whatever might have been ing a right to sustain a moral and political the circumstances in the past which had led to neutrality. After having, by his anxiety not to the existing situation, the demands of Russia offend his brother-in-law, reduced Prussian inwere such as menaced not only Turkey but the fluence to a mere feeble coincidence with our integrity of European States, and that the remonstrance against the misinterpretation of cause of justice as well as the observance of the Vienna note, Frederick William appeared international obligations, made it the duty of to be alarmed lest the czar should suspect him England to oppose by strong diplomatic repre- of being too decidedly opposed to him. The sentations, if such might be successful, but in feeling against him in England was unmisthe last resort by determined material opposi- takable. “ The irritation here against the tion to a gigantic physical power, the unwar- Prussian court,” said Prince Albert, " is very rantable attempts of the czar practically to add great, and not undeserved. After it had the Turkish possessions to his empire. This caused intimation to be made of its dread of perhaps would be the outline of the argument France, and we had procured a declaration for held by the large moderate section of people them that no territorial aggrandizement of any who deplored and would have made great kind would be accepted by that nation, they sacrifices to prevent rather than to maintain now affect a fear of Russia, as though Prussia the conflict. This was the position taken must be swallowed up in a moment.” But it during negotiations which had failed one was at this juncture that the King of Prussia after another, and the continuance of which thought he might interpose by sending two even after the repeated evasions and attempted letters, one of a private and one of an official overbearing of the Emperor of Russia, was character, to the Queen of England. These now recommended by the King of Prussia in were specially despatched by a cavalry oflicer a letter to the queen, in terms which may have almost immediately after the czar's proposals been intended to be pious but were singularly had been negatived at Vienna, and their
avowed intention was to induce the queen to In England the character ascribed to the reconsider those proposals, as though she could King of Prussia was that of a weak and self
in any sense act independently of the decisions
of her ministers. It seemed that the King of ciple of his life-the imperial honour! He Prussia was prepared to act outside the confer- will walk over it extolling God and praising ence of ambassadors and of ministers of state, him. For this I pledge myself. and he pretended to think, or was ignorant “In conclusion, will your majesty allow me enough to think, that the English sovereign to say one word for Prussia and for myself ? might do the same, “in a spirit of conciliation I am resolved to maintain a position of comand a love of peace.” He was-he said- plete neutrality; and to this I add, with proud anxious to co-operate with her majesty in elation, my people and myself are of one mind. every effort for the preservation of peace, and They require absolute neutrality from me. though he could not hope that war would be They say (and I say), What have we to do averted, its sphere might be restricted, and the with the Turk? Whether he stand or fall in duration of the calamity averted, by the four no way concerns the industrious Rhinelanders powers continuing to be firmly united in their and the husbandmen of the Riesengebirg and policy and course of action. This was the Bernstein. Grant that the Russian taxlanguage of the sovereign whose policy had gatherers are an odious race, and that of late been feeble and pusillanimous, and whose monstrous falsehoods have been told and outuntrustworthiness had encouraged Russia and rages perpetrated in the imperial name. embarrassed Austria.
was the Turk and not we who suffered, and The more official letter was long, elaborate, the Turk has plenty of good friends, but the and tainted with obvious duplicity. “I am in- emperor is a noble gentleman, and has done formed that the Russian emperor has sent pro- us no harm. Your majesty will allow that posals for preliminaries of peace to Vienna, and this North German sound practical sense is that these have been pronounced by the con
difficult to gainsay.. . Should Count ference of ambassadors not to be in accordance Gröben come too late, should war have been with their programme. Just there where the declared, still I do not abandon hope. Many vocation of diplomacy ceases does the special a war has been declared, and yet not come to province of the sovereign begin.” Was it not actual blows. God the Lord's will decides." most strange, he asked, that England seemed There is no need to analyse or to characterfor some time past to have been ashamed of ize this letter, but it is little to be wondered what had been the special motive for the con- at if it was read with impatience and even flagration ? The war would now be one for a with indignation. Even now, that large numdistant and ulterior purpose. “The prepon- bers of people are more and more convinced derance of Russia is to be broken down! Well ! that the Russian war, if it were just, might I, her neighbour, have never yet felt this have been prevented, the terms in which the preponderance and have never yielded to it. letter is couched will be regarded as offensive And England in effect has felt it less than I. to English notions when the words are accomThe equilibrium of Europe will be menaced panied with some knowledge of the position by this war, for the world's greatest powers occupied by Prussia at that time. The very will be weakened by it. But above all suffer spirit of time-serving, and of a selfishness the me to ask, “Does God's law justify a war for more stupendous because it is half-unconscious, an idea ??” The letter goes on to implore her seems to pervade the language employed. majesty for the sake of the Prince of Peace There could be only one kind of reply to it. not to reject the Russian proposals. “Order The queen wrote without delay. them to be probed to the bottom, and see that “ The recent Russian proposals came as an this is done in a desire for peace. Cause what answer to the very last attempt at a compromay be accepted to be winnowed from what mise which the powers considered they could appears objectionable, and set negotiations make with honour, and they have been reon foot upon this basis ! I know that the jected by the Vienna Conference, not because Russian emperor is ardently desirous of peace. they were merely at variance with the lanLet your majesty build a bridge for the prin- ' guage of the programme, but because they
THE QUEEN'S SPIRITED ANSWER.
55 were directly contrary to its meaning. Your and the ink that has gone to the penning of majesty's envoy has taken part in this confer- them might well be called a second Black ence and its decision, and when your majesty Sea. But every one of them has been wrecked says, “Where the vocation of diplomacy ends, upon the self-will of your imperial brother-inthere that of the sovereign may with propriety law. begin,' I cannot concur in any such line of “When your majesty tells me that you are demarcation, for what my ambassador does now determined to assume an attitude of comhe does in my name, and consequently I feel plete neutrality,' and that in this mind you myself not only bound in honour, but also appeal to your people, who exclaim with constrained by an imperative obligation to sound practical sense, “It is to the Turk that accept the consequences, whatever they may violence has been done; the Turk has plenty be, of the line which he has been directed to of good friends, and the emperor has done us adopt.
no harm,'—I do not understand you. Had “The consequences of a war, frightful and such language fallen from the King of Hanincalculable as they are, are as distressing to over or of Saxony I could have understood it. me to contemplate as they are to your ma- But up to the present hour I have regarded jesty. I am also aware that the Emperor of Prussia as one of the five Great Powers, which Russia does not wish for war. But he makes since the peace of 1815 have been the guardemands upon the Porte which the united antors of treaties, the guardians of civilization, European powers, yourself included, have the champions of right, and ultimate arbitrasolemnly declared to be incompatible with tors of the nations; and I have for my part the independence of the Porte and the equili- felt the holy duty to which they were thus brium of Europe. In view of this declara- divinely called, being at the same time pertion, and of the presence of the Russian army fectly alive to the obligations, serious as these of invasion in the principalities, the powers are and' fraught with danger, which it immust be prepared to support their words by poses. Renounce these obligations, my dear acts. If the Turk now retires into the back- | brother, and in doing so you renounce for ground, and the impending war appears to
Prussia the status she has hitherto held. And you to be a 'war for an idea,' the reason is if the example thus set should find imitators, simply this, that the very motives which urge European civilization is abandoned as a playon the emperor, in spite of the protest of all thing for the winds; right will no longer find Europe, and at the risk of a war that may a champion, nor the oppressed an umpire to devastate the world, to persist in his demands, appeal to. disclose a determination to realize a fixed idea, “Let not your majesty think that my and that the grand ulterior consequences of object in what I have said is to persuade you the war must be regarded as far more import- to change your determination. . . So ant than its original ostensible cause, which in little have I it in my purpose to seek to perthe beginning appeared to be neither more suade you, that nothing has pained me more nor less than the key of the back-door of a than the suspicion expressed through General mosque.
von der Gröben in your name, that it was the “Your majesty calls upon me 'to probe wish of England to lead you into temptation the question to the bottom in the spirit and by holding out the prospect of certain advanlove of peace, and to build a bridge for the tages. The groundlessness of such an assumpimperial honour.' ... All the devices tion is apparent from the very terms of the and ingenuity of diplomacy and also of good treaty which was offered to you, the most will have been squandered during the last important clause of which was that by which nine months in vain attempts to build up the contracting parties pledged themselves such a bridge! Projets de notes, conventions, under no circumstances to seek to obtain from protocols, &c. &c., by the dozen have emanated the war any advantage to themselves. Your from the chanceries of the different powers, majesty could not possibly have given any