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parliamentary precedent and the common sense of the case, but from the obvious policy of the circumstances in which that cabinet was peculiarly placed.

We were prepared, we then said, to see the motley Opposition endeavouring to concoct some vague insult to the Government on which all their discordant sections could have united; and we were equally prepared for seeing that any such factious combination would give the Ministers a great advantage, and would probably have turned the scale in their favour; and with this view-which we are still convinced was the true one-we took the liberty of expressing what we believe was the general wish and hope of the Conservative party, that the Ministers would not volunteer to play the game of their adversaries, and spontaneously, not merely afford, but create, an occasion in which the latter might fairly, and with no disapprobation of the country at large, combine to resist. The result has unfortunately proved that our judgment was correct and our fears prophetic. Of all questions, a budget was the most perilous for such an experiment, and, above all, a budget involving a great variety of antagonist interests, on each of which the stanchest member of the Conservative party might naturally have special views of his own, and would probably have to consult those of a local constituency. It has, we believe, seldom if ever happened that a budget has been passed in its original integrity. In adjusting its details, we always expect objections, alterations, and compromises,-it is the nature of the case, and it is for that reason that they are discussed in committee. It is therefore that a budget (unless where it rests altogether on some great principle-the income-tax, for instance, or the corn-laws) is as unsatisfactory a form for testing the feelings of either the House or the country as can be imagined. This budget had not even the excuse of opening any such new principle as called for so special an appeal to Parliament. It was in substance, after all, as common-place a budget as ever was propounded. The speech by which it was introduced was indeed sufficiently original; of the budget itself, however, the three main features were no more than halving two existing taxes, doubling another, and extending a fourth-a mere shuffling of the same cards; but this very simple process was executed with such a curiosa infelicitas, that it combined all the opponents of the Ministry, while not one of their supporters could, or, at least, did, venture to adopt it as a whole.*

On a full reconsideration of the whole case, we willingly

* The two most powerful supporters of the Government, Sir Edward Bulwer and Mr. Cayley, would, in fact, have annihilated the budget, by the repeal of the whole malt-tax.

acknowledge

acknowledge our entire belief that the Government adopted this unusual and unlucky course in a sincere though mistaken spirit of courage and good faith. They were anxious to ascertain their position, and were induced, for motives no doubt honourable and, in their own judgment, weighty, to adopt a vote on the budget as one of confidence. It is impossible to dispute the propriety of the object, but we still must regret that a clearer, a more appropriate, and even earlier occasion was not taken for that, no doubt, necessary trial of strength-for instance, by meeting Mr. Villiers's motion with the old parliamentary test of the previous question. That would have brought the question to its real issue— a vote of confidence in the good intentions of the Government; and on that question we have little doubt they would have had, as they deserved, a majority; but, if they had not had such a majority on that simple question, how could they hope for one on the more complicated and antagonistic details of a budget, concerning which their own supporters might be expected to feel such a variety of doubts and scruples? The tampering with Mr. Villiers's motion was considered by the House and the Country as a confession of weakness-the bringing forward the budget at so unusual a period of the session was a still more direct one. The battle, thus injudiciously provoked, was fought, and especially by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with distinguished gallantry and, on some detached points, with admirable skill; but, on the whole, the ground was ill chosen-the moment inopportune, and the upshot-what we ventured three months ago to forebode.

It is not with a view of claiming for ourselves any peculiar sagacity-God knows, it needed little to foresee the result-that we make these observations; but a regard to the true and permanent interests of the Conservative party, or at least of that section of it with whose countenance we have been so long honoured, obliges us to lay before our readers what we conceive to be the TRUTH of the case-not a merely retrospective, reproachful, and barren truth-but one calculated-intended at least-to serve as a beacon to guide us hereafter to a safer and more permanent anchorage. Honesty is the best policy, but next to it is Courage-without which, as Johnson wisely said, there is no security for honesty or any other virtue, moral or political.

In that spirit of sincerity, then, we are bound to say that, if we regretted the untimely introduction of the Budget, we still more strongly dissent from many of the principles of the speech by which it was introduced. No one, of whatever political creed, can now affect to doubt or disparage the many high parliamentary qualities of Mr. Disraeli. His resolute spirit has been conspicuously

conspicuously displayed under very extraordinary difficulties. He has combined an indomitable perseverance with great fertility of resource. In opposition he has been and, if he does himself justice, he must again be most formidably influential: he may yet acquire whatever he needs for the discharge of the high functions of a minister. He has shown himself at once a brilliant orator and, what is still rarer, a powerful debater, but he has not, as yet, we think, earned the reputation of a Statesman. Of his Budget, properly so called, any minute examination on our part (even if we had time and room for it) would be now idle, and could tend to no practical result. We will only remark generally that its most judicious portions were so unfortunately linked with others of an opposite character as to defeat themselves. He might, for instance, have extended the House-tax without doubling it, and the Income-tax without hampering it with fresh exemptions and distinctions.

On one of his financial details, however, which is of more permanent importance, and of which the danger may not perhaps be passed, we think it right to repeat and record the objections we have heretofore made-we mean the repeal of the Malt-Taxwhich, when formerly proposed, we denounced as a most injudicious and dangerous measure, but which may, we fear, have derived some additional countenance from Mr. Disraeli's proposition to reduce it by one-half. The reduction, we think, would not have fulfilled any of his intentions, and could only have served as an argument for its abolition. Our readers will find in our 79th volume, p. 265, the reasons of our protest against that proposition. We need not say more than that they appear to us to be stronger than ever. We understand and appreciate the motive of the proposition-the desire of doing something favourable, or at least conciliatory, to the landed interest-but even that it would not have done. The benefit to the land would have been at best very partial-in our fixed opinion, next to nothing—but at all events wholly insignificant compared with the loss of two millions and a half of revenue, which must have been replaced by direct taxation. Nor would the measure have had even the partial success of gratifying the agricultural body. Barley is a comparatively small portion of our produce-but even the growers of barley, we believe, and certainly the country gentlemen and farmers in general, are now very well aware of what an infinitesimal share of any reduction of the duty on malt would find its way into their pockets.

But waiving these and other equally pregnant topics of the Statement, our present unwelcome business is with that particular class of subjects which had very little relation to what is usually

called

called a budget, and upon which, as we have already intimated, we have the misfortune of differing from the late Chancellor, of the Exchequer toto cœlo,-we mean that portion of the speech which relates to various branches of our Maritime Policy.

It is far indeed from our intention to question the motives which induced the Cabinet to authorize the measures opened in this part of Mr. Disraeli's programme, and still less to make them responsible for the language in which it was produced. In their objects and intentions we entirely sympathise. They had heard so much of the losses of the Shipping Interest, and were so convinced of the national danger as well as the commercial injury produced by the repeal of the Navigation Laws, that they readily listened to the complaints of an injured class, and were anxious to make them whatever reparation could be afforded without trenching on the principles of the 'recent legislation' which they had pledged themselves to respect. The fact, however, as we confidently believe, is this:-that the only real grievance and danger consisted in the very essence of that recent legislation,' and that when the gentlemen of the Shipping Interest were brought to book (to use one of their own phrases) they could specify nothing that it was in the power of the Government to redress, save some petty grievances which, in the impossibility of obtaining any relief from the real pressure, they put forward with much show of importance and urgency; and the Government, willing to do all that was in their power, consented to undertake the cure of these alleged mischiefs, the true extent of which probably from their natural desire to keep the details of the Budget secret to the last moment-they were unable to examine by wider inquiries and to test by any antagonist evidence. Their ingenious orator spoke, no doubt, from the brief of his informants, and, without, it may be supposed, having gone very sedulously into details which did not belong to his department, was probably not sorry to have a prospect of gratifying the Shipping Interest by what seem at first sight very moderate concessions-though, when more closely sifted, these moderate concessions will be found to involve very serious con

sequences.

We shall notice successively the different points in the words and in the order in which we find them in what is, we presume, an authorised copy of Mr. Disraeli's Statement;' and if we enter into more detail than the occasion may seem to call for, it is because in the present juncture of affairs it is not impossible that, under the imputed authority of a Conservative Administration, the same principles and the same measures may be hereafter reproduced.

VOL. XCII. NO. CLXXXIII.

R

In

In opening the general question of relief to the Shipping Interest, Mr. Disraeli said :-

'As the recommendations we are about to make are founded, I think, on a very impartial and liberal consideration of the whole case, we believe that, if those recommendations are adopted by Parliament, we may fairly say that the just claims of the Shipping Interest will be satisfied, and that in our future legislation, so far as that interest is concerned, we shall not be disturbed by appeals of a class nature.

We notice this exordium for the purpose of protesting against the invidious introduction of the word class, which has been growing into use or rather abuse ever since the Corn Laws were stigmatised as 'class legislation.' The word involves a principle-in finance a dangerous one, and as in the case before us an absurd one. Ships are a class of things sui generis-and how can any legislation upon ships, or on coaches, or railroads, or any other matter sui generis, be other than sui generis-a class legislation? You subject the ship, for the sake of its own safety, to lighthouse dues: you subject the carriage for the same reason to turnpike tolls. You have county-rates for roads and bridges to facilitate and improve land-travelling: you must have shipping-rates for pilotage, ballasting, buoys, lights, &c., to facilitate and improve navigation. All this is equally class taxation, because the objects to be attained belong to the special classes. What are the duties on licences, game-certificates, hair-powder, armorial bearings, &c.? Nay, what are the various exemptions from taxation, but class legislation? Are they all to be abrogated? We shall come to details presently; here we only insist on the abuse, as we think it, of the term class. Those who abjure the fallacious tenets of a school had better not adopt its deceptive phrases. But this, throughout his speech, Mr. Disraeli seems but too much inclined to do.

Coming, then, to the details of his relief from class legislation,' he proceeds to treat of Light Dues :

With respect to the light dues, we have examined the subject, and it is our opinion that in a great degree the complaints of the Shipping Interest are founded in fact. It certainly seems quite indefensible that, irrespective of the dues which they pay for the advantage of lighthouses, which are amply and pr perly supplied in this country, they should be paying in the form of dues a large sum of money, which is, in fact, the interest paid to the Trinity House for the purchase of private lights, which were improvidently granted by the Crown or by the Parliament many years ago.-(Hear, hear!) As far as that portion of the light dues, which consists of the interest paid on sums advanced by the Trinity House for the purchase of these private lights, it seems to us inde

ensible,

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