夏文斌:要解决好、回应好新文科建设问题

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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[488] 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 tariffto 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 lessto 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 taxat least, if a temporary onewas 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.

The year 1816 was a most melancholy year. Both agricultural and manufacturing labourers rose in great masses to destroy machinery, to which, and not to the temporary poverty of the whole civilised world, exhausted by war, they attributed the glut of manufactured goods, and the surplus of all kinds of labour. In Suffolk and Norfolk, and on the Isle of Ely, the agricultural labourers and fen-men destroyed the threshing-machines, attacked mills and farms, pulled down the houses of butchers and bakers, and marched about in great bands, with flags inscribed "Bread or blood!" In Littleport and Ely shops and public-houses were ransacked, and the soldiers were called out to quell the rioters, and much blood was shed, and numbers were thrown into prison, of whom thirty-four were condemned to death, and five executed. The colliers and workers in the iron mines and furnaces of Staffordshire and Warwickshire, as well as in the populous districts of South Wales, were thrown out of work, and the distress was terrible. The sufferings and consequent ferments in Lancashire were equally great. In Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and Derbyshire, the Luddites broke out again, as they had done in 1812, and by night demolished the stocking-frames and the machinery in the cotton-mills. Great alarm existed everywhere, and on the 29th of July a meeting was called at the "City of London" Tavern to consider the means of relieving the distress, the Duke of York taking the chair, the Dukes of Kent and Cambridge, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and others attending. Many palliatives were proposed, but Lord Cochrane and other reformers declared that the only effectual remedy would be the abolition of the Corn Law. Soup-kitchens were recommended, but in Scotland these were spurned at as only insults to the sufferers; at Glasgow the soup-kitchen was attacked, and its coppers and materials destroyed; and at Dundee the people helped themselves by clearing a hundred shops of their provisions. Alexander of Russia, having obtained all that he hoped for from the peace of Tilsit and the alliance with Napoleon by the conquest of Finland, was looking about for a new ally to aid him in freeing himself from the insolent domination of Buonaparte, who was ruining Russia as well as the rest of Europe by his Continental system, when these unexpected events in Sweden opened up to him a sudden and most marvellous ally. The Swedes had chosen the Duke of Sudermania, the uncle of the deposed king. Charles XIII., the brother of Gustavus III. (assassinated by Count Anckarstr?m in 1792), was old, imbecile, and childless. A successor was named for him in the Duke of Augustenburg, who was extremely popular in Norway, and who had no very distant expectations of the succession in Denmark. This princea member of an unlucky househad scarcely arrived in Sweden when he died suddenly, not without suspicion of having been poisoned; in fact, various rumours of such a fate awaiting him preceded his arrival. Russia, as well as a powerful party in Sweden, was bent on restoring the line of Vasa. Alexander was uncle to the young prince, who, by no fault of his own, was excluded from the throne. Whatever was the real cause, Augustenburg died, as had been predicted; and while the public mind in Sweden was agitated about the succession, the aged king, Charles XIII., applied to Napoleon for his advice. But Napoleon had bound himself at Tilsit to leave the affairs of the North in the hands of Alexander, and especially not to interfere in those of Sweden. He therefore haughtily replied:"Address yourself to Alexander; he is great and generous"ominous words, which were, ere long, applied, to his astonishment and destruction. Nothing could exceed the consternation and indignation of the Spanish people when they found their great strongholds guarding the entrances from France into the country thus in the hands of the French. Had there been a king of any ability in Spain, an appeal to the nation would, on this outrage, have roused it to a man, and the plans of Buonaparte might have been defeated. But Godoy, knowing himself to be the object of national detestation, and dreading nothing so much as a rising of the people, by whom he would most certainly be sacrificed, advised the royal family to follow the example of the Court of Portugal, and escape to their trans-Atlantic dominions; which advice could only have been given by a miscreant, and adopted by an idiot. To surrender a kingdom and a people like those of Spain, without a blow, was the extreme of cowardice. But, as if to urge the feeble king to this issue, at this moment came a letter from Buonaparte, upbraiding him with having received his acceptance of the match between their houses coldly. Charles, terrified in the extreme, wrote to declare that nothing lay so near his heart, and at the same time made preparations to be gone. The intention was kept as secret as possible, but the public soon became aware of the Court's proposed removal from Madrid to Cadiz, in order then to be able to embark for America. The Prince of Asturias and his brother protested against the project; the Council of Castile remonstrated; the populace were in a most tumultuous state, regarding the plan as originating with Godoy, and surrounded the palace with cries and gestures of dissatisfaction. The king was in a continual state of terror and irresolution, but Godoy pressed on matters for the flight.

There were not wanting, however, those who strove to disturb the joy of Ireland, and the peace of England thus acquired, by sowing suspicions of the sincerity of England, and representing that the independence granted was spurious rather than real. Amongst these, Flood, the rival of Grattan in political and Parliamentary life, took the lead. He seized on every little circumstance to create doubts of the English carrying out the concession faithfully. He caught at an imprudent motion of the Earl of Abingdon, in the Peers, and still more vivaciously at the decision of an appeal from Ireland, in the Court of King's Bench, by Lord Mansfield. The case had remained over, and it was deemed impracticable to send it back to Ireland, though nearly finished before the Act of Repeal. Fox explained the case, and made the most explicit declaration of the "full, complete, absolute, and perpetual surrender of the British legislative and judicial supremacy over Ireland." But the suspicions had been too adroitly infused to be removed without a fresh and still more positive Act, which was passed in the next Session.

The Greeks had been struggling to emancipate themselves from the tyrannical dominion of the Turks, aided in their war of independence only by the voluntary contributions and personal services of enthusiastic friends of freedom, like Lord Byron. At length, however, the sanguinary nature of the contest, and the injury to commerce by piracy, induced the Great Powers of Europe to interfere in order to put an end to the war. Accordingly, on the 6th of July, 1827, a treaty was signed in London by the Ministers of Great Britain, France, and Russia, for the pacification of Greece. In pursuance of this treaty, a joint expedition, consisting of British, French, and Russian ships, entered the Bay of Navarino on the 20th of October, with the object of compelling the Sultan to concede an armistice, in order that there might be time for effecting an arrangement. The Sultan, Mahmoud, having declined the mediation of the combined Powers, and Ibrahim Pasha having received a large reinforcement of troops from Egypt, he was ordered to put down the insurrection at every cost by land and sea. He had accordingly recommenced the war with fanatical fury. All Greeks found in arms were to be put to the sword, and the Morea was to be laid waste. The combined fleet of the Allies had received orders to demand an armistice, and if this were refused by the Turkish admiral, they were to intercept the Turkish supplies, but not to commit hostilities. When the Turkish fleet met the Allies, the futility of these instructions became evident. They found it ranged at the bottom of the bay, in the form of a crescent. Instead of parleying, the Turks began to fire, and the battle commenced apparently without plan on either side. It soon became general. Admiral Codrington, in the Asia, opened a broadside upon the Egyptian admiral, and soon reduced his ship to a wreck; others in rapid succession shared the same fate. The conflict lasted with great fury for four hours. When the smoke cleared off, the enemy had disappeared, and the bay was strewn with the fragments of their ships. Among the Allies, the loss of the British was greatest, though not largeonly 75 men killed[263] and 197 wounded. The catastrophe produced immense excitement at Constantinople, and had the Janissaries (those fierce and bigoted defenders of Mohammedanism whom the Sultan had so recently extirpated) been still in existence, it would have fared ill with Christians in that part of the world. The Sultan demanded satisfaction, which would not be granted, and the European ambassadors left Constantinople. The battle of Navarino occurred at the time when the Duke of Wellington assumed the reins of office, our ambassador having then returned from Constantinople.

Least of all did the ambitious designs of the Czarina Catherine against Turkey seem menacing to us; yet these designs speedily drew into their current the whole power of Austria, endangered our relations with the countries on the Baltic, and attracted the revolutionary torrent over the fertile plains of the Netherlands, opposite to our own shores, menacing the stability of our allies, the Dutch. Catherine had found the Turks not so easily to be overcome as she imagined, feeble and tottering as she considered their empire. The absorption of the Ottoman kingdom and the establishment of the Muscovite throne at Constantinople had been her confident dream. But the Turks, though in a condition of decline and disorganisation which promised an easy subjugation[350] of them, had still their spirit of fanatic fatalism, which could rouse them to deeds of impetuous valour. The whole organisation and regulations of their army were in the worst condition. The janissaries, which had been amongst the finest infantry in the world, were now thoroughly demoralised and in insolent insubordination towards their own government. Their cavalry was numerous, but wretchedly disciplined. The commissariat was in the worst state conceivable, and their artillery, though it had received the energetic attentions of the French Baron De Toff, was contemptible. It might have appeared that nothing was necessary but to enter Turkey and drive the army, as a disorganised rabble, before the foe. But Catherine had not found it so. Her favourite, Potemkin, had been repeatedly defeated in his attempts to advance into Turkey from the Crimea, and Catherine had been glad to engage Joseph II. of Austria in the enterprise by a promise of an ample share of the spoil. In fact, the pair contemplated something like a partition of Europe. In their meeting at Cherson in 1787, Joseph had engaged to send one hundred thousand men to the campaign against Turkey. He had no quarrel with the Sultan, and though a zealous advocate for national reforms, he paid very little regard to national or international justice. In all his reforms, Joseph, with true Austrian spirit, showed the despot still. He did not attempt to carry such reforms as his subjects desired, but such as he thought proper for them; and he was always ready to force what he deemed liberalism and improvement upon them at the point of the bayonet. In attacking Turkey, he did not wait to proclaim war, much less to have a pretence for it, but he suddenly made a rush upon the neighbouring city and frontier fortress of Belgrade. The Turks, though taken by surprise, defended the place victoriously; and Joseph's subsequent assault on the fortress of Gradiska was equally unsuccessful and equally disgraceful.

And there I met another man,

On the 21st of March Parliament was dissolved by proclamation, and the same day the Gazette announced several of the changes determined on in the Ministry. The Duke of Bedford retired from the Lord-Lieutenancy of Ireland, and his place was taken by the Earl of Halifax. Legge, who was considered too much in the interest of Pitt, was dismissed, and Lord Barrington now took his place of Chancellor of the Exchequer. Charles Townshend took Barrington's former office, and Sir Francis Dashwood became Treasurer of the Chambers in room of Townshend. Both Townshend and Dashwood had gone over to the party of Bute. Lord Holderness was now made to do what Dodington had before suggested; he resigned his office of Secretary of State, and in due course Bute was gazetted as appointed to that post. No notice of this change had been communicated to Pitt, the other and Chief Secretary, till it took place.