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And these results are the more remarkable, when it is recollected that the Tory reductions were effected during fifteen years of extraordinary pressure and suffering, arising from the transition from war to peace, bad seasons, and the change of the currency; while the Whig increase of burdens during the last nine years has taken place when the suffering arising from the change in the currency had been got over, and in the midst of unexampled fine seasons during the first five years, and unprecedented commercial and manufacturing prosperity in the last four.
This extraordinary reduction of the revenue within the last few years appears the more extraordinary, when it is considered how vast a sum was raised, with comparative ease, during the war, and how inconsiderable were
Thus, since 1815, the population of the empire has increased nearly a half; our exports have more than doubled, our imports have doubled, our shipping has advanced a sixth, while the revenue has been brought down to little more than two-thirds of its former amount. No one can doubt that a great reduction of taxation, upon the termination of the war, was both necessary and expedient; but it is also apparent from these details, that the reduction has been both uncalled-for and excessive, and that the vast increase in the resources of the state in every department would have enabled the nation, under any prudent or rational system of government, to have provided with ease a real sinking fund of ten millions annually, to be applied to the reduction of debt-in other words, to have paid off already four hundred millions of the national debt.
The cause to which this woeful and unexpected result is to be ascribed, is obviously the same with that to which the large encroachments on the sinking fund, and the abandonment of Mr Pitt's admirable system for the reduction of the debt, is to be ascribed, viz. -the undue preponderance of the voice of the unthinking many in the Legislature, and the increasing necessity to
the population and resources of the British empire at that time, compared with those upon whom the burden of the supplies is at present to be laid. In order to illustrate this matter, we have compiled, from official and authentic sources, a statement of the population, exports, imports, tonnage, and revenue of the British empire in the years 1815, 1816, and 1839. And the contrast they exhibit is so extraordinary and so strikingly illustrative of the weakness of the Government which, with such resources, has allowed the revenue so miserably to dwindle away, that we here insert it as illustrative both of the elements and national strength which were at the disposal of Government, and the miserable use which they have actually made of them.
which Government has been reduced ever since the peace, of courting popularity on all occasions, and sacrificing the ultimate interest of the state to the passion for economical reduction on the part of the middle classes of society.
These middle classes possess many admirable qualities; it is in their industry and accumulations that is to be found the source of almost all the wealth of the state, and their vigilant oversight is of the highest importance at all times, to prevent the Government from perverting the national funds to the purposes of Parliamentary interest or patrician corruption. But they are altogether unfitted to assume the direct management of financial concerns, for this plain reason, that present economy and reduction of taxation is with them at all times an absolute passion, while their habits of business and station in life prevent them from acquiring those general and systematic views for the regulation of public affairs, which are indispensable to the durable welfare or prosperity of a nation. There is nothing so easy as for any Government, which has no regard for the ultimate welfare of the state, to gain the suffrages and ensure the pre
sent support of that class of society.
The Liberal journals, in opposition to arguments such as these, uniformly exclaim, that to ascribe this devotion to present objects, and insensibility to ultimate consequences, to the middle classes, or the Government whom they support, is to suppose them to be absolute fools or idiots; and that such a supposition is not only contrary to the equal distribution of mental qualities throughout mankind, but is contradicted by the important part which the middle classes have, in all ages, and especially in the present, played in the great drama of human affairs. We answer, that in making these observations, we do not by any means wish to argue that the middle
classes are one iota inferior in mental
Turn to common life, and see how universally the truth of this principle is understood and acted upon in the ordinary concerns of men. The whole of society is divided into different classes, trades, or professions; and no one ever imagines, that because he is master of one profession or handicraft, he is on that account capable of undertaking another. Afarmer considers it no opprobrium to be told that he does not understand the business of a merchant -the most profound lawyer pretends to no acquaintance with the medical art, and a first-rate tailor advances no pretensions to the skill in their several departments of a shoemaker, an upholsterer, or a printer. But, unfortunately, all these different trades and professions, though perfectly aware that their skill is confined to their own peculiar line of life, and that they are altogether incompetent to judge of the merits of other professions or workmanship, conceive themselves perfectly qualified to exercise the functions, or judge of the conduct of statesmen-a profession requiring ten times more study than all the handicrafts in the island put together, and at least as much patient assiduity and application as the sciences either of law or medicine.
No one thinks, in civilized or rational society, of proclaiming the principle of self-clothing, or self-furnishing of houses; and every body knows, that the attempt to make every man his own doctor or lawyer, soon becomes
the most prolific source of profit to the apothecary or attorney; but, unfortunately, the principle of self-government is thought to be applicable to the public concerns of the state; all men are supposed by nature to be born ready-made legislators; and the most complicated and difficult subject of human study is held to be capable of instant acquisition by every person who can read a newspaper.
It is in this fatal delusion that the true cause of the present disastrous state of our finances is to be found. The Reform Bill has practically vested the administration of affairs, and especially of the financial concerns of the nation, in the masses of the people; and Schedule A. having effectually closed the gates in future against the whole race of professional and real informed statesmen, the government has had no alternative but to live on from day to day, without ever looking to the future, and to bring forward such measures only as were likely at the moment to prove acceptable to the people, without the slightest regard to their ultimate effects, or the permanent advantage of the state. On no other principle is it possible to account for the facts, that while in 1816, at the close of a war of two-and-twenty years duration, we had a sinking fund of thirteen millions annually to apply to the reduction of debt, we have now, after five-and-twenty years of profound peace, and the duplication of all our national resources, not only no sinking fund at all, but an actual deficit of a million sterling annually. Is this a sample of the capacities of the masses for the great duties of selfgovernment? Is this a proof of the great foresight and sagacity of popular administration? If these are to be taken as a specimen of the results of the great democratic changes of the present day, they are certainly more disheartening than any that their bitterest enemy ever ventured to predict.
* Annual Malt and Hides, repealed 1822,
--Parliamentary Paper, 14th June, 1833.
annually have been repealed since the battle of Waterloo, of which thirty. eight millions were remitted by the Tory Governments, from 1815 to 1831, and about seven millions by the Whig administration since that time. Now, what was required to have kept up the sinking fund at a proper level, and to have rendered Great Britain at this moment almost disburdened of public debt? Nothing but to have kept on about ten millions of indirect taxes above the expenditure. Such a sum, steadily applied with its growing interest to the reduction of debt, would have been now paying off nearly thirty millions a-year, and we would already have paid off above four hundred millions of the public debt. What was requisite to have attained this great and all-important object? Nothing but to have kept on the duties on beer, spirits, inhabited houses, and foreign wines. The aggregate of these taxes, the repeal of which has produced no sensible benefit to the community, is above ten millions sterling a-year* So far from either the comforts or moral habits of the people being injured by such taxes being kept on, it may safely be affirmed that both would have been greatly improved. The inordinate passion for intoxication would not have taken so fatal a hold as it has now done of the working classes, because ardent spirits would not have been placed so completely within their reach; and, while their innocent and substantial comforts would have been unimpaired, not only would the national burdens have now been reduced to a comparative trifle, but all branches of industry would have been sustained and vivified, by the public securities being permanently kept above par. All these incalculable benefits have now been lost, and the nation reduced, after five-andtwenty years of peace, to the verge of insolvency, not from any real deficiency of funds to put the finances in the most flourishing condition, but from these resources having been thrown away by successive statesmen, in consequence of clamour raised by the Whigs and Li
Nearly forty-five millions of taxes berals, and the culpable habit of looking to nothing but present popularity and the means of getting over the existing session of parliament.
We do not deny that the Tory Administrations, from 1815 to 1830, must stand responsible to posterity for some share of the blame, in consequence of the deep wounds which they inflicted on the sinking-fund, and the enormous repeal which they made of indirect taxes, from the desire to obtain temporary popularity without any regard to ultimate consequences. But what we rest upon is this, that it was the clamour for economy and reduction of taxation raised by the Whigs, and re-echoed by the whole Liberal and democratic party throughout the country for the last thirty years, which drove the Tory Government into these ruinous concessions; and, therefore, that it is the Whig party, and the principle of selfgovernment, which is really responsible for all the disastrous changes which have now rendered the debt a hopeless burden, and landed the nation in almost admitted insolvency. The Whigs are very willing now to blame the Tories for giving way to the loud and almost universal cry for reduction of taxation, raised by them from 1820 to 1830, and for yielding to which they at the time praised the liberal Tory ministers to the very skies. But the justice of history will dispel the illusion, and hold the Whig party responsible for the whole of these reductions, which originated in the clamour which they raised, just as it will hold the principle of self government and the Reform Bill responsible for the present woeful condition of the finances and hopeless state of the public debt.
The Whig advocates will doubtless reply, that great part of the public debt which has grown up under their ad ministration, has been owing to the twenty millions which was paid as a compensation to the West Indian proprietors. But here, again, the same difficulty occurs; and this burden is found to be directly owing to the delusive principles of the same political party. Who was it that raised the cry for instant negro emancipation, and cut short the slow and safe progress of natural restoration to liberty, and precipitated, in three years, a change which could hardly have been safely accomplished in three centuries? Who
but the Whigs, who used that as a stalking-horse whereon to carry on their assaults against the Tory Administrations, and went on, year after year, inflaming the minds of the people by exaggerated representations of the evils of servitude, and the blessings of liberty to savage man, till at last they worked the nation up to a perfect paroxysm of philanthropic fervour and benevolent insanity, until in an evil hour the fatal act was consummated, and the ruinous gift of immediate freedom was conferred upon eight hundred thousand Africans, not yet reclaimed from savage life, and wholly unfit to receive it? It won't do for the Whigs, therefore, to endeavour now to escape from the responsibility of their own deeds, and to throw the blame of the present disastrous condition of the country upon their political opponents. History has recorded their efforts, and they must abide the consequences. They destroyed the sinking fund by the clamour which they raised against indirect taxes which injured no one, and therefore they are responsible for the present burden of the public debt; they destroyed the old constitution, and therefore they are responsible for all the weakness and imbecility of the one which they have substituted in its room; they destroyed slavery in the West Indies, and therefore they are responsible for all the burdens and disasters consequent upon premature emancipation of the negroes; they destroyed the Protestant constitution of the empire, and therefore they are responsible for all the blessings of O'Connell and his tail, and the raising of a fierce cry for a dismemberment of the empire by the faction who practically rule the government.
If any additional proof were wanting of the total ruin to the financial prospects of the empire, which has arisen from the ascendency given to the masses, and the ruinous principle of selfgovernment, it would be found in the extraordinary step regarding the PostOffice, which Government have deemed it necessary to adopt in the last session of Parliament. The sums received from the Post-Office, in the year ending 5th January 1839, were L.2,531,217, of which the net profit, after deducting the charges of collection, was L.1,656,953. Every body knows, that although the nation has enjoyed five-and-twenty years of al
most uninterrupted peace, yet the po. litical horizon is now in almost every quarter overshadowed with clouds, and that nothing short of a miracle can preserve the continuance of these pacific relations for any considerable time longer. We have recently had a fierce civil war in Canada-the West Indies are in such a state of discontent as to require a large force, civil and military, for their protection-a gigantic and most costly war has been commenced in the East Indies, and the British arms carried up into the heart of Asia-the chances of a contest both in the Baltic and Mediterra. nean are hourly increasing-while the turbulent state of the country, excited by the experienced failure of the Reform Bill, has rendered it painfully ap parent that a large increase of our domestic force is unavoidable. The effect of these approaching difficulties is already felt in the admitted excess of L.950,000 of expenditure last year above the income. And yet, with such a bankrupt exchequer, and such enormous charges staring us in the face, this is the moment that Government have thought fit to throw away at least a million a-year by the substitution of a penny for the ordinary postage, and thereby rendered it a matter of perfect certainty that in the next, and probably in every succceding year, the annual deficiency will be two millions sterling!
So prodigal and culpable a waste of public money as this, at such a time, and with such necessity for a surplus revenue existing, from so many concurring dangers, is perhaps unparalleled in the history of the world, and can be explained on no other principle than this, that the ascendency given to the masses by the Reform Bill has rendered any thing like a systematic or real government impracticable in the country, and that the wretched administration which has arisen out of the confusion it produced, has no other resource but to barter a few months of lingering existence against the present solvency and ultimate independence of the empire.
Sir Robert Peel declared, in his place in the House of Commons, that even if he stood alone, he would protest in the loudest manner against this uncalled for and ruinous dilapidation of the public income; and that he would rather retire altogether from
public life, and spend the next thirty years in retirement, than lend the support of his name, in any shape, to a measure so ruinous to the present security, and fatal to the ultimate public credit of the country. Lord Melbourne said, on the same subject, in the House of Lords, that the experiment was undoubtedly a very dangerous one, and that he really did not know how the deficiency which would be occasioned in the public revenue was to be made up; but that the people were impatient for the reduction, and he supposed it was necessary to yield to their wishes. These two declarations may be regarded as tests of the old and new race of statesmen—of those who governed the country in times past, and those who are governed by it in times present. There is no one declaration of Sir Robert Peel's for which we so highly honour him, or which will go so far to redeem his character from the imputation of undue yielding to popular clamour, which attached to the earlier parts of his political career. He may now see what are the consequences of conciliation and concession, and of the vain attempt to disarm democratic hostility by anticipating its wishes, or yielding to its demands. Better, far better for the Conservative party to remain for years out of power, than to tarnish their reputation by any further concessions to a ceaseless demand for a reduction of taxation, which is as intent upon present gain as it is blind to ultimate ruin. The night is far spent, the morning is at hand. They may rely upon it the period is not far distant, when this total disregard of the future, which has characterised all the Governments of Great Britain since 1830, will land the nation in some grievous public calamity; and that when that period does arrive, the light will at once break in upon a benighted people, and the storm of indignation which will fall on the heads of those who have been instrumental in bringing about such misfortunes will be irresistible. The passport to public favour will then be, not to have supported but resisted these ruinous reductions; and the nation, taught by the experience of suffering, will regard as her only true friends, those who had the courage to oppose them when they were wrong, and disregard their censure when it arose from ignorance.