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would be demonstrated, if not in a very clear, yet in a very pungent manner, that the Tories should have ceased their opposition to the paperduties the moment that they heard of the determination of the Irish members to support them. It was criminal enough in them to have so much sympathy with Ireland as to subsidise the Galway line of packets. It would be doubly criminal in them to reap the natural reward of their sympathy in the votes of Irish representatives. It is so difficult to deal with such calumnious charges, and the Whigs are so unscrupulous in their accusations, that it is a positive relief for us to know that our party is not encumbered with a victory which those who excel in slander could misrepresent.
vituperative genius of the Whigs would have stigmatised as mercenary. Lord John Russell's characteristic clap-trap declaring that it were better for ten Ministries to perish than for one to be guilty of a corrupt compact with Irish members, and Lord Palmerston's more polished insinuations against the integrity of the Opposition, clearly enough indicate what we should have to expect had the Government that night been in a minority. It is really curious to see with what facility the so-called Liberal party impute the most sordid motives, and the most immoral conduct, to their adversaries. They themselves are immaculate, they alone have honour, they alone have principles. Not wishing to judge them harshly, we may grant that they are not insincere in bringing false charges of corruption against Conservatives. They make the false charges merely in that blindness of self-conceit which to them, as a party, is the most fatal of delusions. They see that Toryism is winning, but they do not understand it; they are living in a fool's paradise of confidence in themselves, and, like old women who have not sense enough to account by natural causes for a given result, they fly to the hypothesis of witchcraft and devilry. The success of the Tories is due to Satanic influence; they have a compact with the Evil One; they have sold themselves for power. Mr Disraeli especially is in constant communication with the Prince of Darkness. These ridiculous accusations, we repeat, are the sure signs of decrepitude and senility. But we must also repeat that they are most difficult to encounter, and that, like all superstitions, they have a wonderful tenacity. It would have been a godsend to the Whigs if they had been ejected from office through the exertions of Father Daly. How the penny papers would have rung the changes upon Irish brass! How the hustings would have been edified with sermons on Tory corruption! It
These are party considerations, to which we refer chiefly because they explain much that may appear anomalous in the debates upon the Budget. For example, nothing can be more amusing than the contradictory statements of the Opposition as to the question, Whether there is or is not a surplus. In reality there is no surplus. It is only by a juggle of words that the figures which Mr Gladstone read off at the end of his financial statement could be so denominated. Yet whereas the rank-and-file of the Tory party denied the existence of a surplus, the leaders chose to admit it. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made a great deal out of this contradiction, and pretended to discover that the Opposition were at loggerheads. The explanation of the mystery must be clear to all except those Whigs who, judging others by themselves, cannot imagine that any body of gentlemen should be so insane as not to desire office. For the reasons we have stated, the Tory leaders were unfeignedly anxious to defer to next session their advent to power. They were content that the Government of Lord Palmerston should remain undisturbed, and desired only to see Mr Gladstone out of it; or if that were too much, to have his Budget recti
fied. But this being their object, it was impossible for them to deny the surplus, for such a denial would have implied a vote of no confidence, and involved a change of Ministry. The rank-and-file of the party might deny it, for they were supposed to be speaking each merely his individual sentiments. If the leaders denied it, they committed their party to a life-and-death struggle with the Ministry. To those who can look upon politics as a game, nothing can be more interesting than the situation. It is a fine intellectual study. The game was played on both sides with masterly skill. The Whigs carried the day in the House of Commons. But we believe that their success has been dearly bought, for they have lost ground in the country.
Although we may appear to waste time in slaying the slain, and showing for the thousandth time the fallacy of the surplus, yet, for the sake of what follows, we must, in a few sentences, remind our readers of the facts. Now the first objection to the surplus is that, be it what it may, it is produced by the simple process of adding to the National Debt. The deficit on last year was no less than £2,560,000. Mr Gladstone met that enormous deficiency by reducing the balance in the Exchequer to £1,500,000, by absorbing to the extent of £600,000 the fund devoted to loans on public works, and by the issue of Exchequer bonds, amounting, after certain deductions, to £460,000. Putting the two former items together, we may say roundly that he reduced the balances in the Exchequer £2,100,000, and that he added to the debt of the country £460,000. But he constructed his new Budget without any reference to this old one. He had a surplus the year before last, and he carried that surplus to the credit of last year. With all his contrivances he had a deficit last year, and instead of carrying it to the debit of the present year, he charged it to the permanent debt of the country. Well might Mr Hub
bard say, that such conduct is characteristic of a spendthrift, who, whenever he has a surplus, spends it, and whenever he has a deficit pays it out of capital. Mr Gladstone's defence is that he only did what was usual. That is an odd defence for a man to make who professes to be the great reformer of finance. He will spend his surplus and he will pay his deficit out of capital because it is the custom. We deny, however, that there is any fair precedent for the course which he has adopted. There is no instance of a Chancellor of the Exchequer postponing a debt created by his own tampering with the revenue, and postponing it for the purpose of making further reductions in the revenue. The only case in point which Mr Gladstone could fix upon was that of Sir George Lewis, who at the conclusion of the Russian war manipulated the Budget of 1857, proposing in it a large reduction of taxation, without reference to the considerable deficit of the previous year. It is not a case in point, however. That was a deficit produced, not by a failure of revenue, but by an extraordinary war expenditure. All our National Debt is made up of war expenses. But the principle is new to us that a deficit in the revenue of one year is to be added to the National Debt at the time when the revenue of the following year is equal to the discharge of it.
Nor is it only on this ground that the reduction of the paper-duties was to be regarded as an act of financial profligacy. Mr Gladstone counts upon receiving £750,000 as part of the Chinese indemnity. He also counts upon not having to pay another £750,000, being that part of the Chinese vote of last year, which has not yet been called for, and being a sum quite separate from the £1,000,000, voted in the present year for the Chinese war. In point of fact, that £750,000 voted, but not expended, last year, does not show at all in the estimates of the current session. Here, then, in
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
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
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
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. He 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
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—
"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.
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.
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. By 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
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