Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

was facetious on the subject of the It lubricates not only the speaker's remarks I had made about Good throat, but also his words, which Friday and Easter Sunday. He said are the oiliest and slipperiest ever that people eat on Good Fridays and heard in the House of Commons. Sundays as well as on other days, If it be far from satisfactory to but the honourable gentlemen en- know that so wild a financier and tirely misunderstood my statement. so reckless an orator has succeeded It was that the last three days of by his arts in carrying through the the financial year had been days on House of Commons an unsafe Budwhich business was suspended, and get, and has thus acquired a prestige that the consequence had been, not to which he is not entitled, there was that there was nothing ready for one discovery made in the Budget consumption upon those days, but debates which may serve as an antithat what was brought into the dote to this bane. If Mr Gladstone country upon those days could not was gathering his laurels, there was be cleared, and the revenue arising another financier, trained in the from it fell upon the first days of same school of statesmanship, who the present year.” This statement proved for the first time his ability may pass on its own merits, but it to give him a fall. The position cannot for an instant be accepted taken by Sir Stafford Northcote, on as an explanation of the previous the one side of the House, is as restatement to which it stands in ir- markable as the position permitted reconcilable contrariety. In this lat- to Mr Gladstone on the other. Sir ter statement the Chancellor says Stafford has little of the Chancellor's that the three days from which the passion; and, though he speaks well, revenue suffered were Good Friday, is not to be compared with Mr GladEaster Sunday, and the Saturday stone as an orator. But as a finanintervening—the last three days of cier his superiority is indubitable. the financial year, the Customs reve- His financial expositions are as clear, nue accruing from which could not though not so flowery, as Mr Gladbe collected till the first days of the stone's; his mastery of details is current year. But in that case, complete; he is extremely ready in what has leap-year to do with the reply; and it is enough to say that calculation ? Or what was the use the Opposition correctly estimated of referring to two Good Fridays his powers when they pitted him and two Easter Sundays ? One against Gladstone himself. On him Good Friday and one Easter Sun- fell the chief burden of dealing with day are enough, if only they fall the arithmetic of the Budget, while with the intervening Saturday on Mr Disraeli confined himself chiefly the last three days of the year. The to the political questions involved fact is, that it was not Mr Baring in it. What was perhaps most conwho misunderstood Mr Gladstone, spicuous in Sir Stafford Northcote's but Mr Gladstone who had misun- speeches were the accuracy of his derstood the heads of his depart- statement, the candour of his sentiments; and the contradiction be- ment, and the solidity of his views. tween his first statement and his All this showed in most favourable second is chiefly interesting as an contrast to Mr Gladstone, and took illustration of his extreme slipperi- with the House of Commons. We ness in argument. It is impossible really cannot remember the name of to fix his own words upon him. any statesman who has made in a He denies them. He eats them. single session so great an advance He has always a little bottle of some as the late Secretary of the Treasury. mucilaginous compound on the table Previously he was allowed but a before him, which he tosses off in secondary position in debate, and the midst of his speaking, some- in that position he was known as times in the middle of a sentence, an able but dull speaker, whose as a coachman tosses off his dram. speeches it would be more profit

a

a

move

able to read than pleasant to hear that if Mr Bright, who propounded Assigned the post of honour in some peculiar doctrines as to the the financial debates, he shone; the imposition of a tax to the extent of House of Commons never thinned 8s. per cent on all realised property, when he rose, but rather filled; and were Chancellor of the Exchequer, he never once spoke without giving he would project a very comprehenthe Budget and the Chancellor fatal sive Budget. So would any of the thrusts. The authority thus ac- financial reformers of Liverpool, at quired by a sound financier is, we the head of whom stands a namesake say, some recompense for the tem- of our Chancellor, Mr Robertson porary triumph of Mr Gladstone. Gladstone. While such men exist, Sir Stafford Northcote will prove while they have a chance of coming to be a most valuable auxiliary; into office, and while we see that Mr and in spite of Mr Gladstone's Gladstone is gradually approximatdeclaration that there can be no ing to their views, it is nonsense to more ambitious or comprehensive tell us that ambitious budgets are budgets, from which we might impossible, for protection is no more. infer that finance will henceforth Ambitious budgets we expect, as

on smoothly, it is likely long as there are ambitious Chanthat his assistance will be much cellors; and we rejoice to know that needed. When Mr Gladstone made there are men rising in the House the sweeping assertion that there of Commons able to deal with these can be no more ambitious budgets, budgets as they deserve. we can only remember that he has On one strong point in these dishundreds of times made equally cussions we have not yet said a sweeping assertions which have word. We refer to the settlement proved to be false, and which be of the feud between the two Houses has seen fit to repudiate. For the of Parliament as to their respective future, when he makes a sweeping rights and privileges in financial assertion, we shall begin to think legislation. The sting of Mr Gladthat the opposite must be true. In stone's Budget speech was in the the present case, however, he gave tail of it, and was exhibited in one a reason for his statement. He said, small sentence. He had for three in that apology for himself, delivered hours amused the House of Comon the occasion of the last debate on mons with a florid exposition of the Budget, that the repeal of the our financial necessities, and when paper-duties was the last sacrifice to everybody fancied that he had little the freedom of trade. It was the more to say and was about to sit closing of the chapter. There were down amid the shower of roses no more restrictions to be removed. with which he usually strews his Protection was all gone. Finance, perorations, he announced in the therefore, was perfected, and there quietest manner the order in which could be no more grand and compre- he intended to lay his plans before hensive budgets. The reason refutes the House. He would first proitself. It is not the case that all pose a series of resolutions, and restrictions are removed. There are then he would work all these reduties on tea, on sugar, on malt, on solutions into a single bill. He spirits, on tobacco, even on corn, made no reference to the House of which the ambitious Chancellor may Lords, and there were few persons choose to remove. There are not who at the moment saw that, by many articles on which he can re- the instrument of a single bill, the move the duties, but he can raise the wily Chancellor intended to fout broad question as to the incidence the Upper House. His proposition of taxation, how far it should fall on was indeed strictly legitimate, and the rich, and how far on the poor, whether the conduct of the House how far it should be direct, how far of Lords last year were “a gigantic indirect. We cannot help thinking innovation," or were, as we believe, according to rule, Mr Gladstone's merely on questions which perhaps bill could not affect the precedent, never came before the Government but only steered clear of it. The collectively, and upon which some precedent is there established for individual minister may on the ever; the gigantic innovation is spur of the moment have indicated unredressed; and the House of the opinion of himself and his Commons has done no more to colleagues, that they suffered deassert its rights than the little boy feat; they were defeated on Cabinet who, on being told that he must questions. The decision on the not say naughty words, silently Galway Contract was not that of a moves his lips as if the naughty particular minister, it was a dewords were there. The triumph cision reviewed and confirmed by which the supporters of Mr Glad- the Cabinet. They adopted it in stone have thus secured, is one of all its force. Yet a few nights after the smallest that can be conceived the repeal of the paper-duties had If it satisfies the wounded vanity been decreed by the House of Comof the House of Commons, we are mons, the Government were forced glad to hear it, and have some to eat their leek, and to accede to cause to congratulate ourselves on the motion of Mr Gregory that a the moderation of our public men select committee should be appointIt would have been but graceful if ed to inquire into the wisdom of the Government, since they chose the decision at which Ministers had to reap the benefit of the wise arrived. Mr Disraeli did not miss legislation of the House of Lords the opportunity, but distinctly in last session, had refrained from pointed out that here was a quesasking the Peers to repeal the paper- tion of confidence, and yet the duties in a manner which exhibited Government meekly consented to irritation rather than gratitude for let a select committee question its the benefit conferred. But it is decision and override its policy. the misfortune of a weak Govern- It was a just retribution and a ment that it cannot afford to be symptom of inevitable decay. It magnanimous. It is a sign of weak- was the former, for it amounted to a ness that it should be irritable. confession that, after all their calum

Nothing is more true than the nies,* there was a case for inquiry ; Scripture-“ To him that hath shall that the Tories might not have be given, and from him that hath been so very far wrong, nor the not shall be taken that which he Whigs so rigidly correct, as had seemeth to have." It is the fate been imagined. Indeed, after the of a weak Government to grow in statement of Lord Eglinton in the weakness, and of a strong Opposi- House of Lords, when the question tion to grow in strength. We do of the Galway Contract came on for not know whether in the records of discussion there, it would be imposany session of Parliament a Govern- sible for any but interested placement was known to have sustained hunters to cast a reflection upon so many and so humiliating defeats the conduct of the Tory Governas the present one. Their support ment, which is responsible for the of any measure has almost always subsidy. The best and most popubeen disastrous. And it was not lar viceroy that Ireland has ever

*

Mr Disraeli showed with great force that slander has been one of the chief weapons used by the Whigs against the Tory party for the last ten years. The Liberal newspapers were silly enough to reply that Mr Disraeli was the last man who ought to have brought that accusation against the Whigs, for he himself owed his first success in politics to his satirical genius displayed in the celebrated attacks against Peel. But that reply only proves the truth of Mr Disraeli's accusation, for it proves that the Liberals do not understand the difference between invective and slander, sarcasm and defamation. The Whigs have a right to calumniate because a Tory excels in satire !

had, Lord Eglinton,“ had no hesi- friends into open rebellion. Last tation in saying, that he approved of all, the division on the bill the Galway Contract from the first, for the abolition of church-rates and that he was mainly answer- shows triumphantly how the curable for it.” He then described, rent. of principle has set. The in his own frank way, the various triumph, indeed, of the Tory party, steps by which he, as Lord-Lieu- in that division, is much greater tenant, was led to recommend the than appears at first sight from the Galway line of packets to the Trea- numbers. It is doubtless a great sury; and his speech is so able, thing that, after the successes atthat we could wish he contributed tained in session after session by more frequently to the debates in the enemies of the Church, they Parliament—so conclusive, that it should now be driven back so leaves little to be said on either effectually that they cannot get side of the question. We would their bill passed through the House hope that by this time the calum- . of Commons. But there is more nies of the Whigs, in reference to to be said of the Tory victory, and the Galway Contract, have been not the Speaker of the House of Comonly scotched, but killed, and have mons said it. He stated that he lost their interest. If it is not so, gave his vote with the Noes, behowever, we are content to refer the cause he had observed that, though disputant to Lord Eglinton's short the numbers in the division list speech, which will be found in the were equal, a majority of the memTimes of June 4th.

bers were in favour of a settlement The consent of the Government to of the question different from that Mr Gregory's motion was not only of Sir John Trelawney's bill. Vira just retribution for their slanders; tually, therefore, the opposition to it was, we have said, a symptom of the views of the Liberation Society inevitable decay. The humiliation was greater than appeared. It is of conceding the committee was so an immense triumph, which shows great, that nothing but an over- most forcibly that the country is whelming Opposition could have in- with the Opposition, and that the duced them to yield. The Opposi- Tory reaction is becoming stronger tion has indeed become overwhelm- and stronger. It has astounded ing, partly through the gain of the the Whigs, who, perhaps, will now Tories in recent elections, partly learn humility, and begin to bethrough the dissensions of the lieve that the success of the Tories Whigs in the House of Commons, has some little foundation in prinand the imbecility of their policyciple. It will incite our political Their financial policy has disgusted friends to renewed efforts, and preall prudent men ; their party man- lude the way to still more signal agement has driven their Irish victories.

THE DISRUPTION OF THE UNION.

We are doubtful whether the in- right; and, until this is done, they dignation of the American Union- would, in any case, be unreasonists at our imputed want of sym- able, but in the present case espepathy is simulated or real. It is cially so. For the Union was framed possible that they expect to find a on the ruins of British authority; cry so popular as abuse of England and, to judge from the language is sure to be very convenient at the used by Americans ever since, present juncture. But we are as- they consider the establishment of sured by journals and correspond- their independence as the issue ents that the feeling of injury is from a gloomy and grinding tyranny universal, and that no subsequent into perfect freedom. If the jubipolicy which we may adopt, and lant outcries which, from that time which may be more in harmony to the present, have resounded, in with their sense of what is due to and out of season, through the them from us, will avail to restore States, without any risk of producus to their favour. And prepared ing satiety, at least at home, are to as we are to allow for the inevitable be accepted as evidence of the facts, supremacy of passion over reason it would appear that England's rule in a time of national agitation, and of her colonies was an oppressive in a country where the impulses of and barbarous despotism, and that the many swamp the logic of the freedom existed there only in the few, we think the present outcry breasts of a suffering people till the unreasonable beyond all precedent. happy moment, when, flinging off For in what cause are our sympathy the yoke, the new nation sprang and co-operation demanded ? Not forward on its unrivalled career, in the cause of the happiness or leaving its ancient oppressors imwelfare of the American people : for measurably behind in all that conthese our friendly feelings might stitutes the greatness and happiness have been reasonably invoked; but of a people. This is what Ameriit has never been shown that these can oratory, parliamentary stump, are threatened by secession. It is or post-prandial — what American demanded of us that we should be newspapers, American histories, and as anxious as Americans themselves American demeanour generallyare for the stability of their political have meant in their incessant and institutions. And, even in this innumerable references to their concase, we are not called on to sym- dition as a colony, and as an indepathise with the American people, pe dent nation. In these sentibut with one section of the people ments England has good-naturedly against another section equally en- acquiesced ; at least, she has not titled to our regard, which declares set herself in any way to contradict that a continuance of the Union is them. Yet, while granting that contrary to its interests and happi- the extent and importance of the ness. Thus the only way in which transatlantic colonies were such we could meet the requirements of as to entitle them to an indepenthe North would be by aiding nine- dent existence, that they have teen millions to maintain a confed- grown great and prosperous in eracy from which nine millions are independence, and that the separaanxious to withdraw. Before such tion is to be lamented neither by claims can be recognised, it must them nor by us, yet it cannot be be shown that secession is contrary supposed that we have heard with either to the interests of the Ame- particular pleasure the vaunts, the rican people, to our own interests, glorifications of themselves, and

to some great principle of the depreciation of European in

a

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »