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connection with China alone, is £1,500,000 which is doubtful. One half of it we may never receive, the other half we may have to pay in the course of the year. Over and above this, not only is trade dull throughout the world, and therefore our Customs revenue endangered, but we must insist upon it that the state of America ought to inspire every prudent financier with caution. It was but the other day that the Government sent out three thousand men to garrison Canada; our cruisers are on the alert; our ships on the American waters have been multiplied; and the tone of feeling towards this country expressed in the Northern States is as bad as it can be. It is even stated that probably the best mode of preserving the Union would be to pick a quarrel with the Britishers. Surely the precautions which it is necessary to take in order to guard against any such eventuality, must considerably add to our expenses. Nor is this all. We conjure up no mere bugbear when we say that the cotton crop is in danger, and that the failure of it would be calamitous to this country. The correspondence on this head from the other side of the Atlantic is very ominous. We are told that, notwithstanding the confidence of the Southern gentlemen, the slaves, upon whose exertions the cotton crop depends, are not to be trusted. We are also told that the word is passed from mouth to mouth, The war depends upon supplies; we are short of supplies hitherto obtained from the Northern and Western States; let every patriot see to it that he cultivates less cotton and more corn." Now we do not say that all these evil forebodings will come true, that we may not get cotton from another quarter of the globe, nor that, if our commerce with America be stopped, there may not be some compensation in the advantages which our carrying trade will obtain all over the world. But we do say that there is ample reason why we should have paused before cutting

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the throat of a large and increasing revenue. When our Customs are endangered by the failure of trade, is this the time to throw away our Excise? When Lancashire is menaced with the failure of the cotton crop, and with the famine which must be the consequence of a short supply, is this the time to insist upon a reduction of the paper-duties, and to refuse a reduction of those tea-duties which weigh upon the chief luxury of the working classes?

The fallacy of the surplus is so palpable, and the doubtfulness of the chances to which the finance minister trusts are so evident, that everybody saw how invincible would be any attack upon the Budget which would give it a direct contradiction. This would have raised the real question ay or no, is there a surplus? The case is so clear, that had that question been authoritatively proposed to the House of Commons by a party ready to take their stand upon it, only one answer could have been vouchsafed. It did not, however, suit the plans of the Tory leaders to fight this real question. The consequence was, that they had to play what is always the most difficult game in politics-to raise an issue upon a secondary question, and to make a show of giving up the primary one. They give up the point of principle in order to contest a point of detail. In one word, they finessed. The result showed that the chances of this line of policy being successful were so great, that they were justified in adopting it, if we consider the importance, from a party point of view, of keeping Lord Palmerston in office for some little time longer. Whatever be his merits as a statesman, there can be no doubt that he is an admirable warming-pan. The total result of the battle on the Budget is, that the Opposition have succeeded in discrediting, but not in defeating, the Ministry. And one of the most striking lessons which it teaches is the difficulty of managing a parliamentary side-wind, together with

the immense advantage acquired by every man who is ready to make sacrifices for his opinions. Mr Gladstone was ready to sacrifice his office rather than forego the repeal of the paper-duties, and he forced that measure upon most unwilling colleagues. The Tories tried to defeat the most obnoxious clause of his Budget, while they were avowedly indisposed to make the sacrifice of accepting office. They proclaimed aloud their unwillingness to displace Lord Palmerston. Mr Disraeli almost entreated the noble Premier not to resign if he should happen to get a fall. The consequence was, that though the tactics of the party were all but successful, they wanted momentum enough to be completely

SO.

The last division showed a majority for the Government of no more than fifteen. To understand the worth of that small victory, it must be remembered that no less than twenty-four members of the Tory party absented themselves from the division.

The least satisfactory result of the Budget campaign is not that the Opposition has failed, for that we hold to be a positive gain to the Tory party; nor is it that the paperduties have been repealed, for though we are convinced that their abolition is in the present state of the revenue an act of supreme folly, yet it is not unattended with certain advantages, and considering what has already passed in the House of Commons, it must sooner or later have been conceded; but it is that a man like Mr Gladstone, who is bidding for the lead of the Whig party, should have the prestige of carrying out a second time, against the convictions of the House of Commons, a most profligate system of finance. It is a great triumph to him. Political motives are soon forgotten, and the results only remain. It will be forgotten that Mr Gladstone owes his triumph to the complications of party. It will be remembered only that he fought a great battle and won the victory. The Red Indian of debate has one more feather on

his head, and one more scalp in his belt. In spite of diminished majorities and the altered feeling of the House of Commons, Mr Gladstone by such a success is likely to be hardened in his vices; and his admirers, of whom he has not a few, will learn to have confidence in his most extravagant proposals, and in his power of sustained fighting. He certainly fought his battle with great courage, with marked ingenuity, and with inexhaustible eloquence. Only on one occasion did he seem to despond. It was on that last night when the repeal of the paper-duties was finally decreed by the slender majority of fifteen. By the time he rose in the House it was pretty generally understood that the Government were to win. Whispers of the calculated numbers were passed from side to side. But the tone of the Chancellor cast a doubt on all these calculations. He ceased to attack, and was reduced to apology. It is part of his system of oratorical defence to pursue the enemy and to turn defence into attack. A rapid speaker who never gives his hearers time to think can make a tremendous effect by such a system of rejoinder. On this occasion, however, the Chancellor abstained from retort, and was simply apologetic. Then, for a wonder, his manner was confused, and his speech rambling. caught at straws; he was irritated by interruptions; he went off from these interruptions into endless digressions; he spoke as if he were to be beaten; and he craved the indulgence of the House for the length of his speech, seeing that, however the vote of the night might affect others, for him it could have but one construction-that is to say, it would compel him to resign. On most other occasions he showed indomitable spirit, and sometimes that passion which is not without influence on the most cool-headed body of men in the kingdom. The paroxysm of passion to which he gave way on the night after Lord Derby's great speech at

He

the Mansion House - the night when the Budget obtained its first majority of eighteen-was one of the most remarkable displays ever witnessed in the House of Commons. He actually swore at the Opposition. He said he would not swear. He said he could not be guilty of breathing the very uncivil wish contained in the imprecation which he suggested. But as everybody is aware, this declining to use a certain phrase is only a delicate way of using it. Mr Gladstone, in fact, adopted the meaning, if not the words, of the exclamation—

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Lay on, Macduff! And damned be he that first cries Hold! enough!""

It is remarkable that these are the words of a desperate man who was about to lose his head. They were, in like manner, suggested at the commencement of the evening by Mr Gladstone, in the full consciousness that he was on his last legs, and that nothing could save him but a show of the most audacious front.

He has never indeed been rivalled for audacity-we might even say, unscrupulous audacity-of argument, and there is no man like him for making the worse appear the better cause. He sticks at nothing. Just as last year he showed that the increase of the spirit-duties was demanded by a regard to morality, so this year he would have it that though the repeal of the paper-duties would not benefit the ultimate consumers, but only the penny journals and tradesmen, still that was nothing against it, for the object of reducing duties was not to benefit the consumer, but to stimulate trade! In like manner, his objection to the reduction of the tea-duties was not only an illustration of this newly discovered principle; it was in flagrant and violent contradiction of his own fiery invectives in a previous year against Sir George Lewis, who refused to reduce them. When Sir George Lewis retained the war duties on tea, it

was the violation of a pledge-a deed of darkness which showed that the Government did not understand the true interests of the people-a gross dereliction of principle which Mr Gladstone for one could not sanction, no, not for a moment. Could anything be more slippery? We will give one more example of slippery statement which is worth recording, because, although the point in dispute is small in itself, it is exceedingly characteristic of the Chancellor. We refer to his statement as to the difference of revenue in the years 1859-60 and 1860-61. He said that the year 1860-61 was for every practical purpose shorter by three days than the year 1859-60.

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By

It was shorter in this way: 185960 was a leap year, which accounts for one day, and 1860-61 was in the predicament-most happy with reference to our other interests, but not favourable to the interests of the revenue of both commencing and ending with a Sunday. means of this extra Sunday there was a loss of a clear day's pay; and the third is accounted for by the circumstance that in the course of the year 1860-61 there fell two Good Fridays. After saying, however, that two Good Fridays fell to our lot in the year 1860-61, I may mention to the committee that in the present year 1861-62, there is no Good Friday at all." And then he went on to say, that the deduction of these three days' revenue represented a sum of £300,000. Nothing can be plainer than this statement. It is impossible to misunderstand it. An extra Sunday, an extra Good Friday, and the want of an extra day in February, made the difference of £300,000 between the year 1860-61 and the previous year. The statement was received with titters, was ridiculed everywhere as indicating the straw-splitting character of the man, and in particular was pooh-poohed by Mr Thomas Baring. Mr Gladstone in reply made a most astounding explanation. He said, "The honourable member for Huntingdon

1861.]

The Epic of the Budget.

was facetious on the subject of the remarks I had made about Good Friday and Easter Sunday. He said that people eat on Good Fridays and Sundays as well as on other days, but the honourable gentlemen entirely misunderstood my statement. It was that the last three days of the financial year had been days on which business was suspended, and that the consequence had been, not that there was nothing ready for consumption upon those days, but that what was brought into the country upon those days could not be cleared, and the revenue arising from it fell upon the first days of the present year." This statement may pass on its own merits, but it cannot for an instant be accepted as an explanation of the previous statement to which it stands in irreconcilable contrariety. In this latter statement the Chancellor says that the three days from which the revenue suffered were Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and the Saturday intervening the last three days of the financial year, the Customs revenue accruing from which could not be collected till the first days of the But in that case, current year. what has leap-year to do with the calculation? Or what was the use of referring to two Good Fridays One and two Easter Sundays? Good Friday and one Easter Sunday are enough, if only they fall with the intervening Saturday on the last three days of the year. The fact is, that it was not Mr Baring who misunderstood Mr Gladstone, but Mr Gladstone who had misunderstood the heads of his depart ments; and the contradiction between his first statement and his second is chiefly interesting as an illustration of his extreme slipperiness in argument. It is impossible to fix his own words upon him. He eats them. He denies them. He has always a little bottle of some mucilaginous compound on the table before him, which he tosses off in the midst of his speaking, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, as a coachman tosses off his dram.

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It lubricates not only the speaker's
throat, but also his words, which
are the oiliest and slipperiest ever
heard in the House of Commons.

The position

If it be far from satisfactory to know that so wild a financier and so reckless an orator has succeeded by his arts in carrying through the House of Commons an unsafe Budget, and has thus acquired a prestige to which he is not entitled, there was one discovery made in the Budget debates which may serve as an antidote to this bane. If Mr Gladstone was gathering his laurels, there was another financier, trained in the same school of statesmanship, who proved for the first time his ability to give him a fall. taken by Sir Stafford Northcote, on the one side of the House, is as remarkable as the position permitted to Mr Gladstone on the other. Sir Stafford has little of the Chancellor's passion; and, though he speaks well, But as a finanis not to be compared with Mr Gladstone as an orator. cier his superiority is indubitable. His financial expositions are as clear, though not so flowery, as Mr Gladstone's; his mastery of details is complete; he is extremely ready in reply; and it is enough to say that the Opposition correctly estimated his powers when they pitted him against Gladstone himself. On him fell the chief burden of dealing with the arithmetic of the Budget, while Mr Disraeli confined himself chiefly to the political questions involved in it. What was perhaps most conspicuous in Sir Stafford Northcote's speeches were the accuracy of his statement, the candour of his sentiment, and the solidity of his views. All this showed in most favourable contrast to Mr Gladstone, and took with the House of Commons. We really cannot remember the name of any statesman who has made in a single session so great an advance as the late Secretary of the Treasury. Previously he was allowed but a secondary position in debate, and in that position he was known as an able but dull speaker, whose speeches it would be more profit

able to read than pleasant to hear. Assigned the post of honour in the financial debates, he shone; the House of Commons never thinned when he rose, but rather filled; and he never once spoke without giving the Budget and the Chancellor fatal thrusts. The authority thus acquired by a sound financier is, we say, some recompense for the temporary triumph of Mr Gladstone. Sir Stafford Northcote will prove to be a most valuable auxiliary; and in spite of Mr Gladstone's declaration that there can be no more ambitious or comprehensive budgets, from which we might infer that finance will henceforth move on smoothly, it is likely that his assistance will be much needed. When Mr Gladstone made the sweeping assertion that there can be no more ambitious, budgets, we can only remember that he has hundreds of times made equally sweeping assertions which have proved to be false, and which he has seen fit to repudiate. For the future, when he makes a sweeping assertion, we shall begin to think that the opposite must be true. In the present case, however, he gave a reason for his statement. He said, in that apology for himself, delivered on the occasion of the last debate on the Budget, that the repeal of the paper-duties was the last sacrifice to the freedom of trade. It was the closing of the chapter. There were no more restrictions to be removed. Protection was all gone. Finance, therefore, was perfected, and there could be no more grand and comprehensive budgets. The reason refutes itself. It is not the case that all restrictions are removed. There are duties on tea, on sugar, on malt, on spirits, on tobacco, even on corn, which the ambitious Chancellor may choose to remove. There are not many articles on which he can remove the duties, but he can raise the broad question as to the incidence of taxation, how far it should fall on the rich, and how far on the poor, how far it should be direct, how far indirect. We cannot help thinking

that if Mr Bright, who propounded some peculiar doctrines as to the imposition of a tax to the extent of 8s. per cent on all realised property, were Chancellor of the Exchequer, he would project a very comprehensive Budget. So would any of the financial reformers of Liverpool, at the head of whom stands a namesake of our Chancellor, Mr Robertson Gladstone. While such men exist, while they have a chance of coming into office, and while we see that Mr Gladstone is gradually approximating to their views, it is nonsense to tell us that ambitious budgets are impossible, for protection is no more. Ambitious budgets we expect, as long as there are ambitious Chancellors; and we rejoice to know that there are men rising in the House of Commons able to deal with these budgets as they deserve.

On one strong point in these discussions we have not yet said a word. We refer to the settlement of the feud between the two Houses of Parliament as to their respective rights and privileges in financial legislation. The sting of Mr Gladstone's Budget speech was in the tail of it, and was exhibited in one small sentence. He had for three hours amused the House of Commons with a florid exposition of our financial necessities, and when everybody fancied that he had little more to say and was about to sit down amid the shower of roses with which he usually strews his perorations, he announced in the quietest manner the order in which he intended to lay his plans before the House. He would first propose a series of resolutions, and then he would work all these resolutions into a single bill. He made no reference to the House of Lords, and there were few persons who at the moment saw that, by the instrument of a single bill, the wily Chancellor intended to flout the Upper House. His proposition was indeed strictly legitimate, and whether the conduct of the House of Lords last year were a gigantic innovation," or were, as we believe,

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