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sake of doing it were there no have been taught to think of other reason.

the one revelation of But there are many good Infinite Wisdom in regard to reasons ; amongst which the traffic in commodities ; so may set high the fact that the that to say “Infringement of war-charge of to-day is almost Free - trade principle” is to entirely devoted to the defence damn any little arrangement and acquisition of trade — the in cottons or sugar which the means of living. It is to seize differing conditions of another markets, keep markets, fill people may seem to commend. workshops and factories, that The superiority of direct over all the world's at strife,—the indirect taxation has been nations eager to trample each preached less dogmatically; it other down. And the most does not admit the glamour urgent and direct end of these of religiosity so much, or even endeavours is the contentment at all. But this, too, has been of the people—that is to say, wrought up into a matter of the supplying of wages and the principle, whereas it is only storing of cupboards. I say the another matter of expediency, most urgent and direct end. to be decided as circumstances Demagogues may answer no;

differ. When direct taxation the statesmen who have nations was so much in favour, when in charge are conscious at every the true gospel was to cut hour of their lives that it is down indirect taxation to the true. And if true, when should utmost,

utmost, the Intellectuals of the working-men of this country the time were under the debegin to take their share in its usion that commerce would war-charges if not now? Are extinguish war.

That was as not their personal interests suffi- much as to say that the call cently touched at this point to for extraordinary additions to justify personal concern, and revenue would diminish, the even the sacrifice of a penny ordinary returns available for a week to put them out of calculable purposes increasing jeopardy?

meanwhile by

by “leaps and How badly they must have bounds.” Had that been been taught by People's Friends wise forecast, not only a if they think not! But how duction of indirect taxes, but badly taught they have been! removal of the machinery for There is a free-trade principle, collecting them, the choking of most excellent use for certain of the fountains thereof, would peoples in certain conditions have been wise enough too, no and circumstances,

and by doubt. But the forecast being those peoples not to be aban- as foolish then as it looks now, doned lightly. It is, however, we see how right they were no law of nature, but an who held that fewer indirect pedient :-a variable expedient, taxes should be abolished and never get used without that the sources of a greater exception or deviation. Yet number should be kept runthe people of this

this country ning, if almost imperceptibly,








in rearliness for the need that for one, read with the pleasure would surely come one of a Looker-on who was never doubting that they were prop- of different opinion, but erly available for it. However, always strongly of this. No, the national finance was gov- even took free - trade for erned by a

man of geniusanything but what it is-an whose grand peculiarity was (his expedient good or otherwise friends say), that whenever his as conditions decide. Yet even mind was fixed upon a certain such an one might read with course, he resolutely excluded a shock what followed (in the as hostile, as offensive, every "Times !') after the aboveconsideration that rose up quoted sentence :

“ The reagainst it. Under his influence imposition of a shilling duty abolition of indirect taxes went on corn, which was not felt

The fountains thereof when it was in operation, and were choked, their attendant would bring in at the present machinery was destroyed, and time a very large sum, is one an idea was given out that proposed reform. A duty of their restoration could only a halfpenny a pound on sugar, be accepted as one of the in- which is another, would yield humanities of war.

some six millions a-year. We Time passes, a year in the doubt if the present Chancellor life of a nation being only as of the Exchequer is likely to a day, and events which lay propose either. Yet if some in wait to prove our direct

of the kind is not taxation policy excessive have adopted we shall find ourselves, arrived.

So much must be in all probability, confronted clear to the common-sense per- with far more serious financial ception of most men, while they problems in the immediate that are dull have the "Times' future.” to help them to a spying- Reimposition of a tax on corn, glass. On the first day of this reintroduction of a sugar-taxmonth of March its readers this is going deep at the first saw there a declaration that plunge; and yet not so deep in “there is now good reason for one direction as may be supreconsidering and revising our posed. It is said that the financial system as a whole, “shilling duty on corn and in a bold and comprehen- not felt when it was in operasive way." (This is said, I tion, nor can it be imagined that should remark, without regard so light an impost would ever to the considerations advanced be felt. But what if this shilin the foregoing paragraphs, ling was no tax at all, and aboliand upon a different line of tion of the duty still more needargument.) Question asked, less and improvident than the whether the basis of taxation surrender of the city coal-dues ? has not been perilously nar- Whether he remains of that rowed ? Answer, that “the opinion I know not; but some true policy is to extend the scope years ago, when our importaof indirect taxation,” which I, tions of grain were much smaller


was as

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than they are now, one of the To be sagesage in the sense first authorities in trade and enjoyed by the good French finance (he has no superior) father of a family—much it believed that the abolition of the becomes us a Government shilling corn-duty was a griev- and a people. Prudence, dis

mistake. A hard free- cretion, calculation, the arts trader, he yet had no doubt on propitiatory and

disarming, that point. For the advantage these should guide us in our

“ Government measure,' dealings with foreign States, which the collection of the duty for all our many ships and secured, was fully worth the preponderating sea-power. To shilling a quarter to buyer and seek out causes of quarrel and seller; and, at the same time, remove them, to weed out a trade - convenience put into growths of rancour from honest the Treasury every year a large and perhaps inevitable rivalry, sum of money as well earned to cultivate useful friendships as the Post Office profits. The on worthy terms-why, what abrogation of the duty made Government should not be forno difference to the consumer,

ward in works so helpful to because the cost of measure- themselves, and what people be ment had still to be paid, and slow to exhort and approve ? of course paid by him. The All counsel to that effect is shilling duty had this further precious, and not less precious advantage, it was thought. because there seems to be Being usefully there, it could universal, everlasting need be increased by another shil- of it. ling, and yet make no sensible All good men, many bad addition to the consumer's out- ones, and nearly all who are goings. The two-shilling duty both bad and good, must wish would bring a large revenue to see the foreign business of from what would be in effect their country so conducted. Yet a one-shilling duty.

no Government and no people Prove all this to be true, and seems to hold this desire in yet the shilling duty would be countenance. I think I know called a tax on the food of the why, but the explanation is so people—insidious, malicious, in- much disliked that I do not retolerable ; and the proposal to peat it. The fact, then, may restore a charge on sugar would pass for strange though true, be denounced no less fiercely. that where every motive for But while we speculate Sir sagesse rises to the nth and exists Michael's plans are settled,- in perpetuity, it is little more before this discourse appears than a Sabbath observancethey will perhaps be known. recurring in most countries at If in any discreet way they about one year in seven: and assert the righteousness and usually upon some sort of comtimeliness of falling back a pulsion. little on indirect taxation, good :

There will be United or so I think, for reasons given. States of Europe and America

till the wild-wood savagery of VOL. CLXV.-NO. MII.



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which we have here a sign is selves furnish—is for one thing tamed. But that will not be, incomplete, and, for another, probably, until the Christian the most incredible that can nations, having no more bar- be imagined. Lord Salisbury barous hinterlands or effete em- indisposed to make a peacepires to civilise, begin to civilise securing agreement with each other—of course by differ Russia ? Lord Salisbury reent processes. Such occasional luctant to concede unobjecefforts to harmonise the unhar- tionable terms? What genius monious as we already witness could contrive a more absurdly will help, no doubt; but not at unjust suspicion ? Merely to ill-chosen times, not if they wear speak the Prime Minister's too plain a look of compulsion, name is to dissolve every such not if they rush all at once to fancy.

It does more. extremes of solicitude and anxi- plies the complete answer ety. For wherever “ the law of a question which had been the beasts" lingers, as it does better disposed of in silence. in international affairs, timidity Name the name that stands invites violence_feeds it. first in British statesmanship,

A great many silent Britons and we see the face of one who find these mistakes, and more, ever since the Constantinople in the imploring question that Conference, at any rate, has goes echoing round and round been thought friendly to Russia. the newspapers,

“ Why not The Constantinople Conference come to

an agreement with was in 1876; but not many Russia ? What prevents an months have passed since Lord understanding with Russia ? Salisbury made a bid in open How is it that our Govern- market for the much - desired ment a Government which Russian understanding. This acknowledges that a British

British was when he said publicly that policy offensive to Russia was we had “put our money on the altogether wrong

at- wrong horse”: plain overture, tempts an arrangement with as everybody understood then, the Czar?” That it could be and as nobody should forget done if Lord Salisbury had a who now asks, “Why no agreemind to do it, and would only ment with Russia ?” But permake the necessary unobjec- sonal bias has not all to do tionable concessions, is the with the matter. Whatever common answer to these ques- the leaning of his likes and distions; which are asked, indeed, likes, what should be expected that the chosen answer may of any British statesman holdfollow.

ing office in these later days, It is not the first time that than hat he should labour to these nervous inquiries have ascertain the conditions (if any) rung through the press. At upon which England and Russia short intervals they have been might hedge off their rivalries heard again and again; and and work them out peaceably? the only reply — the reply to do that became the ab

To which the questioners them- solute duty of every British


say so.

Minister from about the time unless upon compulsion, or unof Lord Beaconsfield's death, less the agreement gave to the when a new political era began; Czar large carvings from the and it is hard to believe it a British Empire (what is not duty which

which Lord Salisbury ours in the East other Powers neglected. I go so far as to have something to say about), say that he could not neglect why, I ask, should the Russian it. It would have forced atten- Government sign a treaty of tion from a Minister much less limitation, of abnegation? And sympathetic with the end in what would be the value of view than Lord Salisbury. such a document after signa

But if we must believe that ture? Would it be worth as an arrangement with Russia much as the Czar's oath to has been studied, and if, never- the Finlanders? No impartial theless, nothing of the kind man will

The Czar's exists, must the inference be oath was not made to forthat Lord Salisbury's unac- eigners, nor was it an instrucommodating temper spoiled an ment of diplomacy. acceptable bargain? Other ex- The details of such an agreeplanations are conceivable ment should, at least, be satissome far more probable. In factory in appearance to both a matter like this, the wish of parties; but of all the many one party for a well-settled politicians who find no diffiworking agreement is the least culty there, not one has ever advance to the desired object presented Lord Salisbury with that can be made. Encounter- à draft of mutually acceptable ing a no-wish on the other side, conditions, and I venture to it withers and there is an end say never will. The difficulties of it: and till we

are enormous. Reviewing them informed I shall continue to all together, the conclusion must believe that on the other side be, I think, that, as in duty there is no corresponding de- bound and by natural bent insire. With such a history as clined, Lord Salisbury has felt it looks back upon, why should his way to the longed-for agreethe Russian Government volun- ment with Russia. But whether tarily set bounds to its ambi- because he found no correspondtions—meaning to keep faith? ing wish there; or because of the As to a corner of the world impossibility of drawing up a here and there, and for tem- scheme satisfactory to the Czar's porary purposes (as in China, Government and presentable to for example), it is possible. the people of England; or beBut, starting from an under- cause such agreements are so standing that “there is room unstable that nothing of the enough in the East” for both kind would be released from countries, the agreement de- watchfulness or justify any consired is one that shall mark siderable reduction of out the territory which each ments; or because of all these of them may or may not pre- difficulties in combination—the tend to now or hereafter. And idea did not prosper. Perhaps

are better


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