Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

It is impossible to even name a tithe of the men of might and genius whose public services gave energy to this conflict, and splendor to this victory. Behind these stood a host whose less conspicuous, but not less efficient labors, gave aim to that conflict and certainty to that victory. Only two will be mentioned-MR. PAULTON, the able editor of “ The League"! newspaper, who was one of the earliest actors in the enterprise, and weekly sent forth from his closet arguments which, when reïterated by eloquent tongues on the rostrum, made the land echo the

cry

of Cheap Bread ;” and Mr. GEORGE WILSON, who officiated as Chairman of the League from its creation to its extinction. Some estimate may be formed of the extent of his services by a fact stated by Mr. Cobden in his speech at the dissolution. It appeared from the official records of the League, that, during the seven years of its existence, Mr. Wilson had attended its meetings one thousand three hundred and sixty-one times, and had never received one penny for his labor. Such devotion bankrupts all eulogy.

[ocr errors]

CHAPTER XXVI.

.

National Debt of Great Britain-Lavish Expenditures of the Govern

ment-Its Enormous Taxes—Will the Debt be Repudiated ?-Will it Occasion a Revolution ?--Plan of Mr. Ricardo to pay the Debt-Mr. Hume's Efforts at Retrenchment.

GREAT BRITAIN is the richest and poorest nation of modern times. Her sea-sweeping commerce, her varied and vast manufactures, her fertile agriculture, the millions which flow into her coffers from her colonial possessions, are sufficient, were she free from debt, and her Government economically administered, to make her every son and daughter prosperous. But her huge national debt, and her immense annual expenditures, crush her laboring masses between the upper and nether millstones of remorseless taxation and hopeless poverty. Her debt sits upon the body politic like the nightmare of Erebus, almost stopping the circulation of the vital fluids. Like other high-born bankrupts, she is proud, as well as poor. She maintains the most lavish and expensive Government in the world. Though the interest of her public debt eats out the substance of her people, and the army, the navy, and the church, cling like leeches to her monetary arteries, she annually throws away immense sums in the shape of pensions and sinecures to worn-out heroes and civilians, to generals, admirals, ex-chancellors, judges, and diplomatists, to decayed nobles and knights, and every kind of titled nondescript noodle and nonentity.*

She lavishes munificent gifts on dilapidated

- There * A writer in a recent number of the London Times, says: are various classes of pensions, but they all agree in this,-namely,

hospitals, schools, and charitable institutions, whose sole recipients of the bounty are the dryer branches of noble families, with long titles and short purses, whose control over the empty establishments is a sheer sinecure. She heaps bounties on numerous squads of imbeciles, whose blood is of that pale, watery kind supposed to indicate royalty, spending, in a recent year, more than £100,000 upon the nurseries, stables, and kennels of her Majesty's babies, horses, and puppies. * She that they are for the most part undeserved, and that the recipients do nothing for their money. There are pensions given under the pretense of supporting the peerage, in consideration of parties' çircumstances, and to compensate for abolished sinecures. Others there are that may be called 'mysterious pensions,' that no man knoweth the origin of. Of the first sort, Lord Bexley's pension of 3,0001. is an example. This man was found unfit for the office of Chancellor of the Exchequer some years ago, and therefore was hoisted into the house of incurables. Lord Allen receives a good fat pension in consideration of his pecuniary condition. The Honorable Jane Carr receives 10001., nobody knows for what. But the pensions for abolished sinecures are the most flagrant. Thus Lord Ellenborough receives 77001. a year as compensation for the abolished nominal office of chief clerk in the Queen's Bench !-nearly as much as the Lord Chief Justice's salary !! There are even worse than this, however. J. C. Beresford receives between 40001. and 50001. as compensation for the abolished sinecure of storekeeper of the Customs, Dublin! The Reverend J. Burrard receives as compensation for the abolished sinecure of searcher of the Customs, Dublin, 11001. a year !

* The writer in the Times gives this "royal” list :The Queen eats and drinks..

£63,000 pocket money

60,000 Prince Albert........

38,000 Queen Dowager... Natural children of William IV., about...

Per ann.

Ditto

1

3,000 King of Hanover..

21,000 Leopold, King of the Belgians..

50,000 Prince of Mecklenburgh Strelitz....

2,000 His wife, the Duke of Cambridge's daughter, Augusta Caroline...... 3,000 The Royal Dukes and Duchesses, about

100,000 The following are a few miscellaneous items : The repairs to the Pimlico Palace, estimuted at.......

150,000 The Royal Yacht.... Windsor Castle has cost within the present century.

.3,000,000 The repairs to St. James' Palace were about....

30.000 Buckingham Palace, before the present repairs.

34,000 The Kitchen Garden at Frogmore

23,000 George IVth's natural children hare cost the country...

100,000

100,000

20.000

pers,

pays large annual tribute to her universities, that the sons of her nobility and gentry may riot on good living and bad Latin. She quarters at death's door a myriad army of starving pau

that her landlords may maintain monopolies in the soil, the grain, and the game of the kingdom. Fond of fight and feathers, she hires the sons of her poor at thirteen shillings a month, to sail and march round the world, and bully and kill all who oppose their progress, while she keeps their fathers at home to work out the expenses at a shilling a day. She lays open the whole kingdom as foraging grounds for a ravenous Church Establishment, whose wardens tithe not only mint, anise, and cummin, but all “ weightier matters ;' and whose " wolves," clad in broadcloth, hunt foxes at £5,000 per year, and hire curates to look after the sheep, at £50. In a word, the pockets and patience of the larger share of British subjects are so heavily taxed by these imposts and impositions, that loyalty itself cries out in tones of vexation and agony, "Though kings can do no wrong, they have a very expensive way of doing right."

At the accession of William and Mary, in 1689, the national debt of Great Britain was £664,000. At the close of the French war, in 1763, £138,000,000. At the close of the American war, in 1783, £250,000,000. At the commencement of the Continental wars, in 1793, £240,000,000. At their close, in 1815, £840,000,000. Thus, it cost England £600,000,000 to put down Napoleon and restore the Bourbons. Some £40,000,000 having been paid off during the last thirty years, it now stands at £800,000,000. The population of the United Kingdom is 26 or 27,000,000. Consequently, the average debt of each man, woman, and child, is upwards of £30, or $150. The adult male population, with such females as are independent property-holders, does not probably exceed 7,000,000. To discharge the debt, it would be necessary that these persons should pay, on an average, nearly $600. This debt may be repudiated; but can it ever be paid ?

Looking only to the records, the debt is owing to some 300,000 persons. It would seem, then, that 27,000,000 of people are enormously taxed to pay the interest on this vast debt to this small number of creditors. The British Government is always laying anchors to windward. Forty years ago, when this debt was rapidly accumulating, it saw that if a revo lution should occur, and the issue be made up between the taxpayers and the tax-receivers, the former could easily trample down a class with whom they had no sympathy, and repudiate the debt. Accordingly, it has been the policy of the Government during these forty years to induce the middling and poorer classes to invest money in the public funds, through the medium of sayings banks, charitable institutions, and friendly societies. Not long since, there was found to be standing in the names of the commissioners of those associations some £25,000,000 of the public debt, belonging to about 800,000 individual depositors and 16,000 associations—the latter representing probably 1,000,000 of people. Thus the debt is actually owing to 2,000,000 of people, three-fourths of whom are of the middling and lower orders of society--the very class that would be likely, if any, to foment a revolution of the Government. So long as this state of things exists, it is safe to presume that the public debt of Great Britain will never be repudiated, even by revolution.

The taxes upon the people of that kingdom equal those of any other nation on earth. The annual average of direct tax paid to the Government by each man, woman, and child, exceeds £3. It is paid by less than one-fifth of the population, making about $100, on an average, for each tax-payer,

rich and poor. Nearly the whole, ultimately, comes directly and indirectly from the poorer classes, not in money solely, but in hard work, high rents, mean fare, and low wages. These taxes are levied on land meats, drinks, glass, malt, soap,

« ZurückWeiter »