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the circumstance that his speech on this occasion was one of the least successful speeches he ever made. But, even if he had spoken with his customary force, he would probably have found it impossible to have carried the scheme which he had brought forward. For, while it was based on the panic which prevailed, it incidentally administered the best specific to fear. The chances of invasion seemed preferable to the certain addition of fivepence to the income tax. Three days afterwards the Government, alarmed at the aspect of the House, referred the estimates to secret and select committees; while on the last day of the month, the Chancellor of the Exchequer offered to abandon the additional income tax if the duty were continued for another year at its ordinary rate. Never perhaps before had a single fortnight effected so radical an alteration in the financial policy of a Ministry. But then it must also be remembered that never before had a single fortnight produced a more radical alteration in the political situation. When Lord John brought forward his Budget, on February 18, the throne of Louis Philippe seemed secure: when Sir Charles Wood abandoned the income tax on February 28, Louis Philippe and his family had fled from Paris, and were seeking—no one knew how—to escape from France. The great steam fleet, which was to serve his purpose as an invader, could not afford him one little vessel in his flight; and the monarch was about to seek refuge in a country whose liberties the alarmists had thought he was about to destroy. Verily, if an additional fivepence in the pound had overcome panic, the fall of the Man of July had deprived the alarmists of excuse. The convulsion which upset the throne of Louis Philippe was felt in every corner of Europe. The Emperor of Austria was forced to abdicate; Lombardy was temporarily lost to the Austrian Empire; the throne of Prussia was shaken by the Revolution; and even the Pope was forced to quit Rome; while Chartists in England, and Repealers in Ireland grasped at the opportunity which was suddenly presented to them. Thus internal, and not external, dangers became the theme for discussion; and, instead of organising a militia to meet the French, the Government was soon enrolling special constables to meet the Chartists. Yet the Ministry was undoubtedly weakened by the failure which it had experienced. Lord John's evident inability to shake off his long and depressing influenza confirmed the doubts, which sedate bystanders were forming, of the permanence of the Government; and the determination of Ministers to make no further concessions increased these feelings. Writing on the last Sunday in February, Lord Lansdowne said—
I assume that you will in no case, as things now stand, consent to any reduction of estimates, but will instantly resign if any such should be carried.
And, on the following Friday, Lord John successfully resisted a proposal of Mr. Horsman to exempt professional and precarious incomes from the full weight of the tax. The victory was achieved by a large majority; but it was ominous that Lord John was chiefly supported by Protectionists and Peelites, and opposed by many of his own supporters. Though Lord John could not derive unmixed comfort from such a victory, the conclusion of the debate gave him some relief, as it enabled him to go down to St. Leonards, and to give himself fourteen days of such rest as a Prime Minister can obtain in a so-called holiday. Mr. Ferguson, who was attending Lady John, allowed her to go too, on the single condition that she should travel by road; and, on the Saturday, she and her son met Lord John and his eldest daughter, who went down together by railway. Unfortunately the Sunday was wet; and Lord John, instead of obtaining air and exercise had to remain indoors all day, and listen to M. Lamartine's “History of the Girondists’ and Archdeacon Hare's sermon on “The Mission of the Comforter, which Lady John read to him." * Lord and Lady John had usually a book on hand which they read together.
for instance, in the recess of 1847 they read Sir J. Mackintosh's History of the Revolution, Prescott's Conquest of Peru, The Life of Lord Erskine, and some
A wet Sunday was succeeded, however, by a fine Monday, and Lord John visibly profited by the quiet and the sea air. On Thursday he was so much better that his wife wrote that he was ‘going on delightfully. On the Friday he ventured to return to London to take part in a possible division on a motion of Mr. Hume's on the income tax. But the debate was adjourned till the following Monday, and Lord John again rejoined his wife and children at St. Leonards. On the Monday he returned for one more night to London, to speak and vote on Mr. Hume's motion, and gave proof to his friends of his improving health by making one of the best speeches he ever delivered.
Much of this speech was essentially one for debate, and possesses only a temporary interest. It was an amusing and effective description of the motley minority which he assumed would follow Mr. Hume into the lobby. But part of the speech touched a much higher chord.
I hope we are about to see the nations of Europe . . . bind themselves in more friendly terms with one another. Still . . . no man can venture to say what the time may bring forth; and for one, I will not consent to disarm England . . . in the present state of Europe. . . . It is but the part of wise and prudent men, while everything is uncertain, not to affect security; and, while there is darkness around, not to pretend that we are walking in broad daylight. For these reasons, I can neither agree to the proposition of the noble Lord opposite [Lord G. Bentinck], and consent to take the income tax for one year in order to resort to a permanent tax upon corn and raw cotton; nor agree to the proposition of the hon. member for Montrose [Mr. Hume], and consent to take the income tax for one year in order to prepare the way for a great reduction in the present amount of our naval and military force. . . . If it be the choice of England to descend lower in the scale of nations . . . then it is for this country to say so. . . . Only let me not be the instrument to carry into effect that which I should think the degradation of the country, the fall of her pride, and the loss of her glory.
of the writings of an old friend, Dugald Stewart, and of a new friend, Professor Hinds, whom Lord John was already thinking of for the bishopric to which he soon afterwards promoted him.
In his published diary Mr. Greville said of this speech—
Lord John Russell had a great success the other night, and his speech got many votes. It was one of the best he ever made, and in all respects judicious and becoming his position.
In a private note to the Duke of Bedford he said—
Last night was a great night for John and the Government. He spoke remarkably well, and he gave the concern an immense lift. He seems to have done it in his best style, and to have carried the House with him—exhibiting vigour both physical and political. The division was capital. I really think he has raised the Government stock prodigiously; and, if they are now dexterous and tolerably lucky, and John's health does not give way, they will do.
Thus, once more, Lord John had risen to the occasion, and retrieved by a considerable effort the fortunes of his Administration. During the next few months, the fall of thrones and the crash of armies on the Continent diverted attention from the causes which had produced panic in January. The select committees appointed in February denounced expenditure; the House of Commons loudly called for economy; and the Administration, which had begun the year by proposing increased armaments, at the end of the session found it necessary to retrace its steps. The expenditure on the navy and ordnance was reduced, and the reorganisation of the militia was abandoned. But neither public nor Parliament was satisfied with this reduction; and, at the end of August, Lord John found it necessary to write to Lord Auckland—
August 26, 1848.
MY DEAR AUCKLAND,-Now that Parliament is nearly ended, I wish to impress seriously on you the disposition of the House of Commons in respect to the estimates. I think it absolutely necessary to propose a reduction of three at least, and probably five, thousand men in the number of seamen and marines for next year.
The first step to be taken, however, is to reduce the number of men within the vote for the present year.
This I trust you are doing as fast as circumstances will permit.
The next thing is to consider in what way the prospective reductions can be effected with the least injury to the efficacy of the service. The committee say that, when an increase is required on a particular station from temporary necessity, the increase is made permanent without necessity. A fleet in the Mediterranean is useful, almost essential, to guard Malta, Corfu, and Gibraltar; protect our interests in Italy, Turkey, and Greece; and save us from the new colony of Algiers. But a fleet or squadron of large ships in the Channel is only useful occasionally. There are two sources, i.e., foreign stations—such as the Pacific and New Zealand—-and the home squadron, from which reductions can be made. There are several others with which you are acquainted from your knowledge of the department. We must not diminish, however, our force on the coast of Africa without the most mature consideration. The result is that you must take Dundas and Berkeley, and Milne and Ward, into council; and consider how you are to reduce the actual force. Whether seamen or marines are reduced, is to me a matter of indifference. If I were to say what my judgment would incline to, it would go to the laying-up of the St. Vincent, and two other large ships in the winter, keeping a good frigate and one smaller ship at Lisbon. If affairs on the Continent change their complexion, why alors comme alons, but at present there is no ground for alarm in the Channel.—I remain, &c., J. RUSSELL.
A little later Lord John wrote to the Duke of Wellington:
CHESHIAM PLACE: December 7, 1848. MY DEAR LORD,-The Cabinet, upon examining the state of the revenue and expenditure, and the present prospects of the revenue for the coming year, have come to the conclusion that it will be necessary to make a considerable reduction of the army. The precise amount is not determined, and I should not wish to arrive at any positive decision till we know a little more of the intentions of France after the Presidential Election. But I wish to prepare your Grace for a decision which the state of our finances
will probably render absolutely necessary.—I remain, &c., J. RUSSELL.
The Duke did not agree to this proposal, and Lord John wrote again:—