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expenditure and the advantages which must accrue from the conclusion of an Anglo-French Treaty, did much by the speech which he delivered in July, 1859, on the financial policy of the Derby Government, to hasten the work afterwards successfully completed by Mr. Cobden. As we have seen, he expressed his belief that the thirty-six millions of Frenchmen engaged in the honest occupations of their country, were as anxious for perpetual peace with England as the most intelligent and Christian Englishman could be for a perpetual peace with France. The Emperor himself was, also, equally anxious to remain at peace with this country. There were great restrictions on the commerce between the two countries, which interfered with that free intercourse that should subsist between them, and these ought not to be allowed to remain; and he (Mr. Bright) strongly counselled the abolition of such restrictions.
The great difficulty was, that the French Emperor could not cope with the monopolists of his own country. If he could offer to his nation thirty millions of the English people as customers, that would give him an irresistible power to make changes in the French tariff which would be as advantageous to England as they would be to France. Mr. Bright believed that if that were honestly done—done without any diplomatic finesse, and without obstacles or conditions being attached to it which would make its acceptance impossible—it would bring about a
state of things which history would pronounce to be glorious.
This speech was read by M. Michel Chevalier, the great French economist, who wrote to Mr. Cobden urging him to come to Paris in the belief that the Emperor would be willing to negotiate a commercial treaty with England. Mr. Cobden, at the close of the session, went to Paris, had several conversations with his friend M. Michel Chevalier, and was speedily engaged in personal communications with the Emperor, who showed equal intelligence and honesty on this question. M. Rouher, the French Minister, was enabled to commence negotiations, and through several months they went on, interfered with by many obstacles, but by no obstacles in France so great—as Mr. Bright said upon a subsequent occasion—as by some of those which came from this country. But finally the Treaty was signed, and Mr. Cobden at length saw achieved the second great triumph of his life.
On the 10th of February, 1860, Mr. Gladstone introduced his Budget, embodying the provisions of the French Treaty. In the outset, the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred to the circumstances which made the present a memorable year in British finance
-the relief of £2,146,000 from payment of interest on the National Debt; the lessening of war duties on tea and sugar; the expiry of the period for which the income-tax was voted, and the new commercial treaty with France. The charges for the ensuing year
he estimated at £70,000,000, and the income at £60,700,000; the deficiency to be made up partly by a renewal of the tea and sugar duties as they now stood for fifteen months, and partly through the operations of the new French Treaty, which he recommended the House to adopt. "France,' said Mr. Gladstone, 'engaged to reduce the duties on English coal and coke, flax, and pig-iron, in 1860. On the 1st of October, 1861, France would reduce duties and take away prohibitions on British productions mentioned, so that there should not be an ad valorem duty of over 30 per cent. There was a provision that the maximum of 30 per cent. should, after a lapse of three years, be reduced to a maximum of 25 per cent. England engaged, with a limited power of exception, to abolish immediately and totally all duties on manufactured goods; to reduce the duty on brandy from 15s. to 8s. 2d.; on wine from 5s. 10d. to 3s. ; with power reserved to increase the duty on wine, if we raised our duty on spirits. England engaged to charge upon French articles subject to excise the same duties which the manufacturer would be put to in consequence of the changes. The Treaty was to be in force for ten years.'
Mr. Gladstone then paid a well-merited tribute to Mr. Cobden. He said that he could not help expressing his obligation to him for the labour he had, at no small personal sacrifice, bestowed upon a measure which Mr. Cobden, not the least among the apostles of Free Trade, believed to be one of the greatest triumphs of Free Trade ever accomplished. 'It is a great privilege for any man who, having, fifteen years ago, rendered to his country one important and signal service, now enjoys the singular good fortune of having it in his power—undecorated, bearing no mark of rank or of title from his Sovereign, or from the people—to perform another signal service in the same cause for the benefit of, I hope, a not ungrateful country.
Mr. Disraeli moved an amendment to the effect that the House should not go into committee on the Customs Act until it should have considered and assented to the French Treaty; but this was rejected by 293 to 230. On the 21st, however, another debate upon the Budget was raised on Mr. Ducane's motion, "That this House, recognizing the necessity of providing for the increased expenditure of the coming financial year, is of opinion that it is not expedient to add to the existing deficiency by diminishing the ordinary revenue, and is not prepared to disappoint the just expectations of the country by re-imposing the income-tax at an unnecessarily high rate.'
Mr. Bright spoke upon both these motions. Referring to Mr. Disraeli's resolution, he said he could not discern its real object or purpose. If he sat on the other side of the House, instead of carping at the Treaty and making it the stalking-horse of party, he would attack it in a manly way. He was of opinion that the Government had taken the right course; but say that their policy was bad, the Treaty bad, and the Budget bad; let the course taken be a straightforward one; let an explicit resolution be brought forward, and the question discussed upon its merits.
In the debate on Mr. Ducane’s motion, Mr. Bright expressed at length his views upon the Treaty and the Budget generally. Rising after Sir F. Baring, whose speech was of a somewhat pessimist character, he said that that speech came from a mind which clung very much to the past, and entertained doubts with regard to the future. Every part of it held up some hobgoblin to prevent them from pursuing the course which since 1842 had proved most wise. The country approved the Chancellor of the Exchequer's proposals, and the motion, which was a fair one, went to defeat the whole scheme, to reject the Budget and the Treaty, and to overthrow the Government. The result of this would be a new budget, indirect taxes, and at the same time an estrangement from France, which he thought would be very unfortunate.
Mr. Bright then happily illustrated his opinion of the Treaty by this reference to the writings of Mr. Disraeli :
'In one of the many books which the right hon. gentleman has written, partly for the instruction and perhaps more for the amusement of his countrymen, he described the mode of living of an English nobleman of great wealth in Paris. He says: “Lord Monmouth's dinners at Paris were celebrated. It was generally agreed that they had no rival. Yet there were others who had as skilful cooks ; others who for equal purposes were as profuse in their expenditure. What was the secret of his success ? His lordship's plates were always hot (u laugh); whereas in Paris, in the best-appointed houses, and at dinners which for costly