THE CATHEDRAL, TUAM.
Belgium, this summer, was the great battle-ground. In it were Austrians, Dutch, British, and Hanoverians. At the opening of the campaign the Allies had probably two hundred thousand men scattered along the frontiers, and the French upwards of three hundred thousand. But whilst the French were united in one object, and the Convention kept pouring fresh masses of men in, the Allies were slow and disunited. The Duke of York, who commanded the English and Hanoverians, about thirty thousand men, was completely tired of the sluggish formality of the Austrian general, Clairfait, and refused to serve under him. To remove the difficulty, the Emperor of Austria agreed to take the command of his forces in the Netherlands in person, so that the Duke of York would serve under him. Francis II. arrived in April, and great expectations were excited by his presence. Instead of urging all the different divisions of the allied armies to concentrate in large masses against the able generals, Pichegru and Jourdain, Francis sat down before the secondary fortress of Landrecies, though the Allies already held those of Valenciennes, Condé, and Quesnoy. This enabled Pichegru to advance on West Flanders, and take Courtrai and Menin in the very face of Clairfait. At the same time Jourdain had entered the country of Luxembourg with a large force, and whilst the Austrians were wasting their time before Landrecies, he was still further reinforced from the army of the Rhine, which the absence of the King of Prussia left at leisure, and he now fell upon the Austrian general, Beaulieu; and though Beaulieu fought bravely for two days, he was overwhelmed by successive columns of fresh troops, and driven from his lines. Jourdain then advanced upon the Moselle, where the Prussians ought to have been, and were not, in spite of the subsidy.In July of the present year the union of Ireland with Great Britain was carried. Pitt and Lord Cornwallis had come to the conclusion that a double Government was no longer possible, and that unless the Irish were to be allowed to exterminate one another, as they had attempted to do during the late rebellion, the intervention of the British Parliament was absolutely necessary. A resolution had passed the British Parliament in 1799, recommending this union, and the news of this created a tempest of indignation in Protestant Ireland. In January, 1799, the speech on the Address to the throne in the Irish Parliament was, on this account, vehemently opposed, and an amendment was carried against the Government by a majority of one; yet in January, 1800, a motion was carried, at the instigation of Lord Castlereagh, the Secretary, in favour of the union, by a majority of forty-two. Whence this magical change in twelve months? On the 5th of February the whole plan of the union was detailed by Lord Castlereagh, the principal Secretary of State for Ireland, in the Irish Commons. He stated that it was intended to give to Ireland in the Parliament of the United Kingdom four lords spiritual sitting in rotation of sessions, and twenty-eight lords temporal elected for life by peers of Ireland, and that the Irish representatives in the united House of Commons should be a hundred. The motion for this plan was carried in the Irish Commons by a majority of forty-two in spite of a magnificent speech from Grattan, and by a great majority in the House of Lords; but this was in the face of the most unmitigated amazement on the part of the opposition, and of the people, who were not in the secret. Their rage was beyond description. On the 13th of March Sir John Parnell declared that this measure had been effected by the most unexampled corruption, and moved for an Address to his Majesty, imploring him to dissolve this Parliament, and present the question to be decided by a new one. But the Solicitor-General declared that this motion was "unfurling the bloody flag of rebellion;" and Mr. Egan replied that the Solicitor-General and other members of the administration had already "unfurled the flag of prostitution and corruption." But the measure was now passed, and that by the same Parliament which, only a year before, had rejected the proposition in toto. But what were the means employed by the British Government to produce this change? The answer is simple; a million and a quarter was devoted to the compensation of borough owners, lawyers who hoped to improve their prospects by entering the House, and the Dublin tradesmen.
The next step in the increase of means of traffic was the construction of canals. The rivers had previously been rendered more navigable by removing obstructions, deepening channels, and making good towing-paths along their banks; but now it was projected to make artificial rivers. In this scheme, Richard Brindley, under the patronage of the Duke of Bridgewater, was the great engineer; and his intrepid genius dictated to him to carry these canals over hills by locks, over rivers by aqueducts, and through the heart of hills by tunnels. These enterprises at that moment appeared, to the ordinary run of civil engineers, as rash experiments, which were sure to prove abortive. As all new ideas are, these ideas, now so commonplace, were ridiculed by the wise ones as little short of madness. Mr. Brindley's first great work was the formation of the Duke of Bridgewater's canal, from Worsley to Manchester. In this he at once proved all his plans of locks, tunnels, and aqueducts. He conducted his canal by an aqueduct over the river Irwell, at an elevation of thirty-nine feet; and those learned engineers who had laughed at the scheme as "a castle in the air," might now see boats passing over the river at that height with the greatest ease, while other boats were being drawn up the Irwell against the stream and under the aqueduct with five times the labour. At Worsley the canal was conducted into the very heart of the coal-mine by a tunnel, with branches, which conducted the boats up to the different parts of the mine, so that the coal could be loaded on the spot where it was dug. The immediate effect of this canal was to reduce coals in Manchester to half the former price; and the canal being extended so as to connect it with the Mersey, at Runcorn, it reduced the freight of goods from Manchester to Liverpool to the same extent, from twelve shillings to six shillings per ton, the land carriage having been forty shillings. Brindley was next engaged to execute the Grand Trunk Canal, which united the Trent and Mersey, carrying it through Birmingham, Chesterfield, and to Nottingham. This was commenced in 1766, and exhibited further examples of his undaunted skill, and, as he had been laughed at by the pedants of the profession, he now in his turn laughed at their puny mediocrity. One of his tunnels, at Harecastle Hill, in Staffordshire, was two thousand eight hundred and eighty yards long, twelve feet wide, nine high, and in some parts seventy yards below the surface of the ground. This tunnel, after half a century's use, was found too confined for the traffic, and a new one, much wider, was made by Telford. By this time the art of tunnelling had made great progress, and whilst Brindley required eleven years to complete his tunnel, Telford made his much larger one in three. Many causes intervened to check for a time the progress of canals, so that from 1760 to 1774 only nineteen Acts were passed for them; but in the two years of 1793 and 1794 no fewer than thirty-six new Bills were introduced to Parliament, with others for extending and amending rivers, making altogether forty-seven Acts, the expenditure on the canals of these two years' projection amounting to five million three hundred thousand pounds. The work now went on rapidly, and investments in canal shares exhibited at that day, in miniature, the great fever of railway speculation at a later period. Lines of canals were made to connect the Thames, the Tweed, the Severn, and the Mersey; so that the great ports of London, Liverpool, Hull, and Bristol were connected by them, and put into communication with nearly all the great inland manufacturing towns. In 1779 a ship-canal was completed from the Forth to the Clyde—a work proposed as early as the reign of Charles II. This canal, thirty-five miles in length, had thirty-nine locks, which carried the canal to a height of one hundred and fifty-six feet above the sea, and it crossed the river Kelvin by an aqueduct eighty-three feet from the bed of the river to the top of the masonry. A few years later a much larger ship-canal united Gloucester to the Severn, and wonderfully increased the trade and growth of that city.WILLIAM PITT. (After the Portrait by John Hoppner, R.A.)On the 18th of November Lord Cornwallis crossed the North River with six thousand men, and, landing on the Jersey side, began to attack Fort Lee, standing nearly opposite Fort Washington. The garrison fled, leaving behind all its tents standing, all its provisions and artillery. Washington was compelled by this to fall back from his position on the Croton, thence to Brunswick, Princeton, Trenton, and finally to the Pennsylvanian side of the Delaware. Lord Cornwallis followed at his heels. Cornwallis penetrated to the remotest parts of east and west Jersey, and everywhere the inhabitants received him as a friend and deliverer. On the 24th of November Lord Cornwallis was approaching Brunswick, when he received orders to halt. By this means, Washington was allowed to escape across the Delaware. It was not till the evening of the 16th of December that Cornwallis received orders to proceed, and, though he made all haste, he was too late. The rear of the American army quitted Princeton as the van of the English army entered it. Washington, in headlong haste, fled to Trenton, and began ferrying his troops over the Delaware. When Cornwallis reached Trenton, at nine o'clock the next morning, he beheld the last boats of Washington crossing the river. Once over the water, the remains of the American troops lost all appearance of an army. They were a mere dirty, worn-out, ragged, and dispirited mob. Washington had taken the advantage of the halt of Cornwallis to collect all the boats from Delaware for the distance of seventy miles, so that the English could not cross after them. Cornwallis, being thus brought to a stand, put his army into winter quarters between the Delaware and the Hackensack.
No sooner was this treaty signed than Junot was ordered to cross the Bidassoa with thirty thousand men, and march through Spain for the Portuguese frontier. Two additional armies, partly of French and partly of Spaniards, supported him, and another army of forty thousand was stationed at Bayonne, intended, it was said, to act as an army of reserve, in case the British should land and attempt to defend Portugal, but in reality it was intended for the subjugation of Spain itself. Junot, who had formerly been Buonaparte's ambassador at the Court of Lisbon, made rapid marches through Spain. The Prince Regent of Portugal, knowing that resistance was in vain, sent the Marquis of Marialva to state to the Courts of France and Spain that he had complied with the whole of their demands, as regarded the admission of British goods, and demanded the arrest of the march of the invading army. But no notice was taken of this, and Junot pushed on with such speed as to exhaust his troops with fatigue. He was anxious to seize the persons of the royal family, and therefore this haste, accompanied by the most solemn professions of his coming as the friend and ally of Portugal—as the protector of the people from the yoke of the British, the maritime tyrants of Europe.
These enactments, unaccompanied by any others the object of which was to relieve the distress of the people, only tended still more to exasperate the feelings of the working classes. In fact, nothing had been so obvious as the effect of the proceedings of Government of late in disturbing that peace which they professed themselves so desirous to preserve. They, in truth, were the real agitators. The passing of the Six Acts only made the popular resentment the deeper, and whilst this tended to render the more prudent Reformers cautious, it stimulated the lowest and most unprincipled of them to actual and deadly conspiracy. The general conspiracy believed in by Ministers never existed, but a conspiracy was actually on foot in London, which again was found to have been, if not originally excited, yet actively stimulated, by the agents of Government. The details of this transaction, and of the concluding scene of the Manchester outrage, namely, the trial of Hunt and his associates, necessarily lead us about two months beyond the death of George III., which took place on the 29th of January, 1820. In November, 1819, whilst Government were framing their Six Acts, the more completely to coerce the people, they were again sending amongst them incendiaries to urge them to an open breach of the laws in order to furnish justifications for their despotic policy. The leading miscreant of this class was a man named Edwards, who kept a small shop at Eton for the sale of plaster casts. Some of the emissaries appeared at Middleton, the place of Bamford's abode, but he was in prison awaiting his trial with Hunt and the rest, and the people tempted were too cautious to listen to these agents of Government. But in London these agents found more combustible materials, and succeeded in leading into the snare some who had been long ready for any folly or crime. Chief amongst these was Thistlewood, who had been a lieutenant in the army, a man who had, or conceived that he had, suffered injustice at the hands of Ministers, and who had wrought up his temper to the perpetration of some desperate deed. Bamford when in London, in 1816, had found Thistlewood mixed up with the Spenceans, and to be met with any day at their places of resort—the "Cock," in Grafton Street, the "Mulberry Tree," in Moorfields, the "Nag's Head," Carnaby Market, No. 8, Lumber Street, Borough, and a public-house in Spa Fields, called "Merlin's Cave." At these places they might be found, amidst clouds of tobacco-smoke and the fumes of beer, discussing remedies for the miserable condition of the people. At the latter place Thistlewood was often to be found with the Watsons, Preston, and Castles, who was employed to betray them. From this spot they issued for their mad attempt on the Tower on the 2nd of December of that year. Thistlewood was one of those seized on that occasion, but was acquitted on his trial. Not warned by this, he no sooner got abroad than he sent a challenge to Lord Sidmouth, for which he was arrested, and sentenced to a year's imprisonment. He issued from gaol still more embittered against Sidmouth and his colleagues, and resolved on striking some mortal blow at them. He did not lack comrades of a like fiery and abandoned stamp, and they determined on a scheme for cutting off the whole Cabinet together. The detestable deed was to be perpetrated in the autumn of 1819, a time when the public mind, especially that of the working classes, was so embittered against the Government. They did not, however, succeed in their intentions, and it was at this crisis of unwilling delay that the man Edwards became privy to their plans. In November he carried the important, and, as he hoped, to him profitable secret to Sir Herbert Taylor, who was attached to the establishment of the king at Windsor, and by him he was introduced to Lord Sidmouth. This minister and his colleagues, with that fondness for the employment of spies, and for fomenting sedition instead of nipping it in the bud, immediately engaged Edwards, on good pay, to lead forward the conspirators into overt action. It was not enough for them that, by adding another witness or two to Edwards, they would be able to produce the most complete proof of the treason of these men—they rather luxuriated in the nursing of this plot, and thus ripening it into something bloody and horrible; and in this they succeeded.To the north of Boston peninsula, separated from it only by an arm of the sea, called the Charles River, about as broad as the Thames at London Bridge, stands Charlestown, built also on a peninsula, surrounded everywhere by navigable water, except a neck somewhat wider than Boston Neck. On the peninsula of Charlestown were two eminences: the lower one, nearest to Boston, being called Breed's Hill, the higher and more remote, Bunker's Hill. These hills, which commanded Boston, would have immediately attracted the eye of any general of the least talent. But Gage had utterly neglected this most vital point; and, on awaking on the morning of the 17th of June, he suddenly saw the height of Breed's Hill covered with soldiers and military works, as by magic, and the Americans shouting and beginning to fire upon the town and shipping in the harbour.
Belgium, this summer, was the great battle-ground. In it were Austrians, Dutch, British, and Hanoverians. At the opening of the campaign the Allies had probably two hundred thousand men scattered along the frontiers, and the French upwards of three hundred thousand. But whilst the French were united in one object, and the Convention kept pouring fresh masses of men in, the Allies were slow and disunited. The Duke of York, who commanded the English and Hanoverians, about thirty thousand men, was completely tired of the sluggish formality of the Austrian general, Clairfait, and refused to serve under him. To remove the difficulty, the Emperor of Austria agreed to take the command of his forces in the Netherlands in person, so that the Duke of York would serve under him. Francis II. arrived in April, and great expectations were excited by his presence. Instead of urging all the different divisions of the allied armies to concentrate in large masses against the able generals, Pichegru and Jourdain, Francis sat down before the secondary fortress of Landrecies, though the Allies already held those of Valenciennes, Condé, and Quesnoy. This enabled Pichegru to advance on West Flanders, and take Courtrai and Menin in the very face of Clairfait. At the same time Jourdain had entered the country of Luxembourg with a large force, and whilst the Austrians were wasting their time before Landrecies, he was still further reinforced from the army of the Rhine, which the absence of the King of Prussia left at leisure, and he now fell upon the Austrian general, Beaulieu; and though Beaulieu fought bravely for two days, he was overwhelmed by successive columns of fresh troops, and driven from his lines. Jourdain then advanced upon the Moselle, where the Prussians ought to have been, and were not, in spite of the subsidy.
TRICOTEUSE, OR KNITTING WOMAN, OF THE NATIONAL CONVENTION.During this Session a very important Bill was introduced, and passed both Houses, for the improvement of the police, and the administration of justice in London. The old unpaid and very corrupt magistrates were set aside. The metropolis was divided into five districts, each having its police office, at which three justices were to sit, each having a salary of three hundred pounds per annum. They were not allowed to take fees in their own persons, and all fines paid in the courts were to be put in a box towards defraying the salaries and other official expenses. Constables and magistrates were empowered to take up persons who could not give a good account of themselves, and commit them as vagabonds.
The progress that the electors had made in liberality of sentiment was evinced especially by two of the elections. Mr. Hume, the Radical reformer, the cold, calculating economist, the honest, plain-speaking man of the people, was returned for the county of Middlesex without opposition; and Mr. Brougham, a barrister, who owed nothing to family connections—who, by the steadiness of his industry, the force of his character, the extent of his learning, and the splendour of his eloquence, devoted perseveringly for years to the popular cause, had won for himself, at the same time, the highest place in his profession, and the foremost position in the senate—was returned for Yorkshire. These counties had hitherto been the preserves of the great landed proprietors. Lord Fitzwilliam, though the personal friend of Mr. Brougham, did not like this intrusion of a foreigner into that great county. Indeed, it had been sufficiently guarded against all but very wealthy men by the enormous expense of a contest. In 1826, when a contest was only threatened, and the election ended with a nomination, Mr. John Marshall's expenses amounted to ￡17,000; and, on a previous occasion, it was rumoured that Lord Milton had spent ￡70,000 in a contest. No wonder Brougham was a friend of Parliamentary Reform.The Irish peasantry very soon learnt that whatever Emancipation had done or might do for barristers and other persons qualified to hold situations under Government, from which Roman Catholics had previously been almost entirely excluded, it had done nothing to remove or even to mitigate their practical grievances. They found that the rackrents of their holdings were not reduced; that the tax-collector went round as usual, and did not abate his demands; that the tithe-proctor did not fail in his visits, and that, in default of payment, he seized upon the cow or the pig, the pot or the blanket. Through the machinery of the Catholic Association, and the other associations which O'Connell had established, they became readers of newspapers. They had read that a single tithe-proctor had on one occasion processed 1,100 persons for tithes, nearly all of the lower order of farmers or peasants, the expense of each process being about eight shillings. It would be scarcely possible to devise any mode of levying an impost more exasperating, which came home to the bosoms of men with more irritating, humiliating, and maddening power, and which violated more recklessly men's natural sense of justice. If a plan were invented for the purpose of driving men into insurrection, nothing could be more effectual than the tithe-proctor system. Besides, it tended directly to the impoverishment of the country, retarding agricultural improvement and limiting production. If a man kept all his land in pasture, he escaped the impost; but the moment he tilled it, he was subjected to a tax of ten per cent, on the gross produce. The valuation being made by the tithe-proctor—a man whose interest it was to defraud both the tenant and the parson,—the consequence was that the gentry and the large farmers, to a great extent, evaded the tax, and left the small occupiers to bear nearly the whole burden; they even avoided mowing their meadows in some cases, because then they should pay tithe for the hay.
On the 29th of November Flood moved for leave to bring in a Bill for the more equal representation of the people. This was the scheme of the Volunteer Parliament, and all the delegates to the Convention who were members of the House, or had procured admittance as spectators, appeared in uniform. The tempest that arose is described as something terrific. The orders of the House, the rules of debate, the very rules of ordinary conduct amongst gentlemen, were utterly disregarded. The fury on both sides was uncontrollable. The motion was indignantly rejected by one hundred and fifty-seven votes against seventy-seven; and the House immediately voted a cordial Address to his Majesty, declaring their perfect satisfaction with the blessings enjoyed under his auspicious reign, and the present happy Constitution, and their determination to support him with their lives and fortunes. On the 13th of March Mr. Flood introduced his Bill once more, for equalising the representation of the people in Parliament. It proposed to abolish the right of boroughs altogether to send members, and to place the franchise in the people at large. Sir John Fitzgibbon, the Attorney-General, stoutly opposed it; Grattan dissented from it, and it was thrown out on the motion to commit it.At the very time he received this appointment he was actually in correspondence with Colonel Robinson, an officer of General Clinton's staff, declaring that he was become convinced of the more righteous cause of the mother country, and that he was prepared to testify this by some signal service to his king. It was at the beginning of August of the present year when Arnold assumed his command at West Point; and Clinton lost no time in opening a direct correspondence with him, through which such singular advantages were offered. Sir Henry Clinton employed as his agent in this correspondence a young officer of high promise in his profession and of considerable literary talents, Major John André, Adjutant-General and aide-de-camp to Sir Henry. As Clinton was naturally anxious to bring this hazardous correspondence to a close, he pressed Arnold to come to a speedy decision, offering him rank in the army and a high reward in return for the promised services—namely, the surrender of West Point, with all its dependent forts and stores, including, as a matter of course, the command of the Hudson, and the terror and distrust which this act would spread through the American army. The absence of Washington at the meeting with Rochambeau at Hartford was seized on as a proper opportunity for a personal and final conference on the subject. Major André was selected by General Clinton to meet Arnold on neutral ground. The place selected was on the western bank of the Hudson, and Clinton strongly enjoined him to enter on no account within the American lines, to assume no disguise, nor to be the bearer of any written documents. Day dawned before the whole preliminaries were settled, though the chief point was determined—namely, that West Point should be surrendered to the English on the following Monday. André was prevailed on to remain with Arnold the greater part of the day; and then, on going down to the shore, he found that the boatman who had brought him out refused to carry him back. When André returned to Arnold at Smith's house, he gave him a pass, and advised him to travel by land to King's Ferry, and there to cross. He insisted that for this purpose he must assume a disguise, and travel under his assumed name of John Anderson. So little was André apprehensive of danger, that he not only disobeyed the injunction of his commander-in-chief in this particular, but in the far more important one of carrying written papers, which he concealed in his boot.THE JUMMA MUSJID, DELHI. (From a Photograph by Frith & Co.)
It was not long before the Third Estate was discovered to be in hopeless antagonism with the Court and privileged Orders, and they resolved to act separately. They must act for themselves and for the people at large, or, by further delays, lose all the advantages of the moment. They resolved to assume the character of the representatives of the entire nation. Siéyès declared that the Commons had waited on the other Orders long enough. They had given in to all the conciliations proposed; their condescensions had been unavailing; they could delay no longer, without abandoning their duty to the country. A great debate arose regarding the name that the body of deputies which resolved to become the real legislative power should choose. Mirabeau proposed, the "Representatives of the People;" Mounier, "The Deliberative Majority in the absence of the Minority;" and Legrand, "The National Assembly." The proposal of Mounier was soon disposed of; but there was a strong inclination in favour of "The National Assembly," and Mirabeau vehemently opposed it. The name of "National Assembly" had, it is said, been recommended to Lafayette by Jefferson, the American Minister, and as Lafayette had not yet ventured to move before his Order, and join the Tiers état, Legrand, an obscure member, and lately a provincial advocate, was employed to propose it. But Siéyès had, in his famous brochure on the "Rights of Man," long before thrown out these words:—"The Tiers état alone, it will be said, cannot form a States General. So much the better; it will constitute a National Assembly!" On the 15th of June, Siéyès proposed that the title should be "The National Assembly of Representatives, known and verified by the French Nation." Mirabeau indignantly repelled the title in any shape. He declared that such a title, by denying the rights and existence of the other two Orders, would plunge the nation into civil war. Legrand proposed to modify the name by making it "The General Assembly." Siéyès then came back to his original title of simply "The National Assembly," as devoid of all ambiguity, and Mirabeau still more violently opposed it. But it was soon seen that this name carried the opinion of the mob with it; the deputies cried out loudly for it; the galleries joined as loudly in the cries. Mirabeau in a fierce rage read his speech, said to have been written by his friend Dumont, before the president Bailly, and withdrew, using violent language against the people who had hooted him down, declaring that they would soon be compelled to seek his aid. He had protested in his speech that the veto, which some of the deputies wished to refuse to the king, must be given to him; that without the royal veto he would rather live in Constantinople than in France; that he could conceive nothing more dreadful than the sovereignty of six hundred persons; that they would very soon declare themselves hereditary, and would finish, like all other aristocracies that the world had ever seen, by usurping everything. These words, only too prophetic, had brought down upon him a tempest of execration; and writhing under it he had hastened to the Court and had an interview with Necker, warning him of the danger of the crisis, and offering to use his influence in favour of the king's authority. Necker received him coldly, and thus Mirabeau was thrown back on the people. Siéyès's motion was carried by a majority of four hundred and ninety-one against ninety; and the National Assembly was proclaimed amid loud acclamations, mingled with cries of "Vive le Roi!"Before this, however, the financial statement for the year had been made, and for awhile the Corn Law question was suspended for the country to recover from its astonishment at finding in the Minister of the Conservative party one of the boldest reformers of our tariff who had ever occupied the Ministerial benches. But yesterday his position had appeared one of the greatest difficulty, in which a cautious hold upon the established sources of revenue, with some well-balanced proposals for additional taxes, was all that could be expected. He had not the good fortune of Mr. Goulburn or Lord Althorp in having a surplus to dispose of. The Whig Government had bequeathed to their successors a deficit, which had been increasing from year to year, with a revenue falling off even in the face of new taxes. How was the deficit to be met was the question which filled the mouths of public men; a question which was answered by the famous financial statement of Sir Robert Peel on the 11th of March. After showing that the deficiency for the coming year would be little short of ￡2,500,000, and that this deficiency might be expected to be considerably augmented by the position of affairs in India and China, the Minister declared that he would not consent to resort to the miserable expedient of continual loans. He declared that he would not attempt to impose burdens upon the labouring classes, and that if he did, recent experience had shown that they would be defeated. In fact, the country had arrived at the limits of taxation upon articles of consumption. After ridiculing the various suggestions of people who were constantly sending him projects for taxes on pianofortes, umbrellas, and other articles, accompanied with claims of very large percentages upon the proceeds, he acknowledged the principle laid down by financiers that increased revenue may be obtained by taking off the taxes which pressed upon industry, but declared that the first effect was always a diminution in revenue, and that time was found necessary to restore the amount. In these circumstances, he stated what the measure was which, under a deep conviction of its necessity, he was prepared to propose, and which, he was persuaded, would benefit the country, not only in her pecuniary interests, but in her security and character. His scheme was this: he proposed, for a period to be limited, an income tax of not more than 3 per cent., from which he would exempt all incomes under ￡150, and in which he would include not only landed but funded property. Sir Robert Peel calculated that the tax would yield ￡3,350,000 a year, a sum which, with an addition to the spirit duties in Ireland, and an export duty of 4s. on coals, would not only cover the existing deficiency, but enable him to remit indirect taxes to the amount of ￡1,200,000. The sliding scale had brought little credit to the Minister, and the income tax was in its nature an unpopular measure; but the proposal to reduce the custom duties on 750 out of the 1,200 articles in the tariff—to remove prohibitions altogether (in itself a vast concession to Free Trade doctrines)—to reduce the duties on raw materials of manufactures to five per cent. or less—to keep the duties on articles partially manufactured under twelve per cent., and on articles wholly manufactured under twenty per cent., was a scheme which excited general admiration. The measure was, indeed, contested by the Whig Opposition at every stage. The preliminary resolutions were debated for eight nights. There were many of Sir Robert Peel's old supporters who looked on the financial plan with distrust, as being founded, in a great measure, avowedly on those principles of political economy which they had been accustomed to sneer at; but, in truth, it was not unfavourable to the interests of their party. We have already seen that the new tax—at least, if a temporary one—was calculated to impose a far greater burden upon the manufacturing and moneyed class than upon the landowners; in fact, by exempting incomes under ￡150 a year, and assessing land only upon its net rental, the burden was imposed almost entirely upon that middle class which was the especial object of the dislike of Tories of the more advanced kind. At the same time, by cheapening articles of general consumption, the Minister did something towards securing popularity among the working classes, who, as exemplified in the Chartist agitation, were not always disposed to take part against the landowners. The Income Tax Bill passed, after considerable opposition in the Commons. An amendment proposed by Lord John Russell was rejected by a vote of 302 to 202, and another amendment, proposing the reading of the Bill on that day six months, having been thrown out on the 18th of April by a vote of 285 to 188, the third reading was carried by a majority of 130 on the 30th of May. No debate took place in the Lords until the third reading, when the Bill passed by a majority of 71.详情
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