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which pressed principally on the poor man or interfered with the trade by which he was to be employed, so that the exported products of his industry have doubled since that time; the cornlaws (which Mr. Bright used to declare cost the poorer classes ten millions a year) have been repealed; every actual necessary of life is admitted free of duty ;-and, in order to enable all these reductions for the relief of the poor to be carried out, the governing classes submitted to the imposition, retention, and augmentation of the income-tax-a tax striking them alone, and striking them to an amount varying from five to sixteen millions per annum. All this Mr. Bright knows as well as we do, and knew it when he made the statement we have quoted; nor do we apprehend he will pretend to deny it. Secondly, Out of 76,000,0001. of taxes levied in 1858, 25,000,0001. was direct taxation, of which the unrepresented classes paid only one million; 33,000,0001. was raised by imposts (poor-rates, countyrates, assessed-taxes, 201. house-tax, probate and succession duties, stamps, &c.), of which the governing, or at least the represented, classes paid 97 per cent; while of the customs and excise duties, amounting in all to nearly 43,000,0001., the propertied or represented classes, who are one-fourth of the community, pay about 19,350,0001., and the working or unrepresented classes, whom Mr. Bright calculates to be three-fourths, pay 23,400,0001. Thirdly, While admitting that all such calculations must be to a great extent conjectural, we may state that the fairest and most careful data that can be collected show that the workman pays not, as Mr. Bright alleges, a much larger, but a much smaller proportion of his income in taxation than
an of property; the latter contributing sixteen per cent, and the former only eleven per cent. This last estimate Mr. Bright may probably enough dispute, but the preceding figures he can neither impugn nor plead ignorance of.
Whenever any portion of the operatives is suffering under temporary distress from local causes or commercial crises, Mr. Bright is fond of preaching to them emigration to a lightly
Namely, 61,000,0001. of imperial, and 15,000,0001. of local taxation.
in round numbers.
£61,000,000 We presume Mr. Bright does not reckon the Post-office revenue as a tax, nor the Crown-lands and miscellaneous receipts from the sale of old stores.
+ These figures are taken from an elaborate article in the last number of the Edinburgh Review, compiled evidently with great care and from the most authentic
taxed country like the United States, as their best and only way of escape. Witness his letter to the trades-delegates of Glasgow, already quoted, and one addressed to some of his constituents at Birmingham, March 25,1858.* Mr. Bright is, of course, perfectly entitled to his own opinion upon this matter; though we can recollect the time when he used to assure his hearers that emigration to other lands was only rendered necessary because the produce of those other lands was prevented by our corn and navigation laws from coming here; and we cannot persuade ourselves that he thinks what he says when he declares that twenty-one shillings a head (and no one can place it much higher) is a crushing burden to the artisan, or the real cause of his occasional distress, or worth crossing the Atlantic to escape from. But it is impossible to acquit Mr. Bright of intentional deception and wilful suppressio veri, whenever he contrasts the taxation of the United States with that of England, and vaunts its comparatively light amount. This contrast is one of his favourite arguments--one of the most hard-worked implements of his agitator's stock-in-trade. Yet we do not remember any occasion-certainly if there have been such, they have been rare exceptions to his usual rule-on which he has given his audience the faintest hint that he was stating the American taxation at only half its actual amount—that he was fraudulently comparing the entire taxation of Great Britain with only the federal taxation of America. Mr. Bright knows well—but he naturally supposed that his ordinary audiences would not know—that taxation in America is twofold-State and Federal-and that the former is often the heaviest of the two. For example, in New York,† the fairest State for comparison with England, the proportion of the federal taxation was 8,000,000 dollars, while the state taxes (those for the independent government and local burdens of that sovereign state) reached 15,166,000 dollars, making a total of 23,166,000 dollars, or as nearly as possible 5,000,0001. Now, as New York contains just one-eighth of the entire population of the Union, this would give 40,000,0001. as the aggregate revenue of the United States :- Mr. Bright, looking resolutely at the sixty-four millions of dollars, raised by
“ This year, I suppose, we shall raise in tares at least fifty millions sterling more than will require to be raised by an equal population living, not in England, but in the United States of America. Surely this will account for much of the evils which you and the memorialists, and the working classes generally, suffer; and I am not surprised that sensible men should wish to quit a country where the burdens are so heavy, and the political privileges of three-fourths of them are so few. Every man who is not prepared to compel a better and more economical government at home should emigrate, or the pauperism of his day will be deeper and more without remedy in the days of his children.”
+ These figures are taken from the American Almanac, yearly compiled from official sources, and are those given for 1856-7.
federal customs-duties only, would fain persuade his hearers that it is only 13,000,0001. This suppressio veri is no hasty or unconscious error on Mr. Bright's part; it has been pointed out to him over and over again, and he has persisted in repeat- .
Mr. Bright is entitled to his own opinions as to what is lovely and desirable in social and political condition; he may prefer America to England, because taxation is light, and because the populace is supreme; he may even, if he pleases, persist in regarding it as eminently the land of law and order, though how he can do so in the face of beatings and shootings in the halls of Congress, of rent-repudiation at Albany, and quarantine riots at New York, it is not easy to understand. However, he is not the only man gifted with the convenient faculty of shutting his eyes to what he does not wish to see,albeit he has cultivated it with more success than most. He is at perfect liberty also to recommend his own budget and his own reform-bill: we are not now concerned with the refutation of his doctrines, though we have our own opinion as to the wisdom, the justice, and the ultimate designs of the politician who distinctly proposes to give nearly all the power to labour, and place nearly all the taxes upon property — to make the poor govern, and the rich pay. We might, if we had time, pause to notice a strange confusion in his mind between free-trading and freebooting, in virtue of which he is perfectly ready to confiscate property, if only customs-dues can be abolished and commercial capital go free. We proceed to make good our last and heaviest indictment against him, which we shall treat as briefly as we can.
We say, then, that he habitually inculcates the most selfish and sordid principles of national policy; and he does this under cover of approved colours and lofty names. As an advocate for the striving and industrious poor, he teaches the people to regard mere material prosperity as the one great purpose of a nation's life, and every thing that would interfere with it or rival it as "the small dust of the balance." As an apostle of peace, he urges them on all occasions, not, indeed, to turn the
, left cheek to the enemy who smites them on the right, but officiously to give this Christian counsel to every neighbour whom they see so stricken; and loudly to proclaim to every smiter that this is the only cognisance they will ever take of even the most shameless and unprovoked assaults. Why should we sympathise with oppressed Italians? they afford us scanty markets, and would perhaps be scantier still under a republic than under a despotism. Why should France and Naples groan
under their slavery? it is true that all that is intellectual, noble, or aspiring is trodden under foot, or forced into silence, or banished from the land ; but railways are encouraged, trade is fostered, tariffs are reduced, and prices rise; the “numerical majority” has more to eat and more to spend,--and what else or what better can be wished for? What is the comity of nations to us, that we should profess to care for it? What is the freedom of a cultivated and generous people to our special interests, that we should be deluded into lifting a voice in its behalf? Let Russia seize Constantinople: it is no affair of ours ? Let France annex Savoy and the Rhine: why should she not? land will rise, and markets will be opened. Let Belgium be absorbed next: nothing more righteous or more natural; for the Belgians will get more for their coal, and will spread their manufactures through France without the impediments of custom-houses. Let the blood-bought and guaranteed liberties of Switzerland be invaded, last, and Venetia be crushed out of being: we are not concerned, and it would be weak to sympathise and wrong to protest. That these are Mr. Bright's doctrines, and no exaggerated representation of our own, no regular reader or hearer of his speeches for the last seven years will deny. But if any doubt remained, let it be removed by his speech in the House of Commons on the annexation of Savoy, March 2, 1860, which is so rich and racy a specimen of his real sentiments, that it is well worth embalming in our pages. He says:
"We are not the Parliament of France, we are not the Parliament of Savoy, we are not the Parliament of Europe ; but we are the Parliament of England; and, unless it can be shown that there is any direct and obvious interest which this country has in some of these foreign questions which are constantly brought before us, what an absurd spectacle do we offer to Europe and the world with these repeated discussions ! ( Oh !) .... If France can become more powerful by the addition of the scanty population of a mountainous region, it is more than I can exactly calculate or appreciate. I do not believe that Sardinia will be sensibly weakened or changed if the transfer takes place. (Hear, hear.) I doubt extremely whether any disadvantageous circumstances will arise to the people of Saroy. ("Oh, oh !) But let us for one moment suppose that France and Sardinia are agreed—I know not if they are,—but let us suppose they have determined to apply to the people of Savoy the principle which the Governments are now willing should be applied to the people of Central Italy. The honourable baronet the member for Tamworth argued on the assumption that the people of Savoy are about to be transferred by some great force from a state of blissful freedom to a state of degradation and servitude. (Cheers.) Well, that is certainly not very complimentary to the French people (hear, hear), who may be quite as well pleased with their institutions as we are with ours (hear, hear), and who may feel satisfied
with the social liberty which we have not, and may even prefer it to the political liberty which we enjoy. I do not pretend to know more than the honourable baronet, but I have heard from persons of high authority that the inhabitants of Savoy have no objection to the transfer, but prefer to be annexed to France. (Loud cries of Oh!) We may all be sorry that it is so; but I will tell the House the reason. The best authority that I have been able to consult in this matter has assured me that the annexation of Savoy to France would go fur to double the value of all the landed property in that country. I would not give much for the loyalty of other persons besides the people of Savoy, if I could promise them to double the value of a'l the landed property in the king. dom. (Laughter, and 'Oh, oh!) I am told further that the intelligent portion of the labouring classes of that province are well aware that the annexation would aild greatly to the value of labour in the district. Lyons is not more than from two to three hours' journey, if so much, from Chambery ; the manufacturers of Lyons, with their capital, their looms, and their industry, would instantly spread through the valleys of that province, and an immediate addition would be made to the value of every thing which now exists in Savoy. Now, I don't want the Government to give the slightest countenance to this transference; I do not want them, on the other hand, to give the slightest opposition to it. (Hear, hear.) The opposition, if you give it, must be futile; you cannot prevent the transference of Savoy, but you may, if you like, embroil Europe and bring England into collision with France. I say, perish Savoy (cries of' Oh, oh !")—though Savoy, I believe, will not perish, and will not suffer—rather than we, the representatives of the people of England, should involve the Government of this country with the people and the Government of France on a matter in which we have really no interest whatever."
Now, if Mr. Bright had merely argued that our perpetual intervention in the policy of continental states is undesirable and costly; that our foreign statesmanship has as a rule been blundering and bad ; that we have seldom done much good, and often have done much harm; and that we are constantly unjust to the people of England by wasting their blood and treasure on matters in which neither interest nor duty demands their interference,-no one could have blamed him, and most of us would have agreed with him. If, even in the present case, he had contented himself with declaring that, however much we might disapprove of the seizure of Savoy by France,—for a seizure it unquestionably is,--still it was in no way incumbent upon us, and would not be wise or worth while, to interpose to prevent it by force, few Englishmen would have dissented from his views. But when he speaks with ill-concealed sympathy of the “social liberty of France” (!), and understands so well how the Savoyards should prefer it to the political liberty of England; and when he avers his belief that the Savoyards do desire annexa