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pirical a way of reaching our end, as the excitement of a needJess detestation of taxation, which will be equally likely to cnt down or to refuse the best as the worst employed revenue. If the physic is unnecessary, why take it at all': if it be necessary, why make it superfluously nauseous ?
The truth is, that at present the danger is all the other way. Partly from the natural dislike to pay away money for which no immediate and visible equivalent is received ; partly owing to the violent, thoughtless, and often uncandid and unfair language of that section of politicians who for years have been urging retrenchment upon the Government as its chief duty, and exciting the hostility of the people against taxation as their chief grievance,—the difficulty is becoming yearly greater of raising revenue sufficient for the maintenance of the national credit, the vindication of the national honour, and the improvement and efficacy of the national institutions. This is the natural and inevitable consequence of the language habitually held and the line of argument pursued for many years back by the more demagogic of our public men, and at times also, and for party purposes, by statesmen whom we should be loath, even in thought, to class with these. There is no road to temporary popularity so easy, so low, or so inconsiderate as that which is offered by an appearance of excessive vigilance over all drafts upon the public purse, by leading the onslaught upon this or that obnoxious impost. But neither is there any road which more certainly leads to ultimate failure—which entails a more sure or more richly inerited retribution. All taxes are unpopular; and necessarily so. None can be devised by the wit of man which do not press inconveniently and often painfully upon some classes or upon all : abuse of any tax is, therefore, sure to meet with ready sympathy from millions. No tax can be discovered to which there may not be urged some serious and valid objections: a severe exposure and hostile criticism of any tas, therefore, will find an echo in the reason as well as in the feelings of all hearers. Taxes in their best estate are only necessary evils; they are all, more or less, directly burdensome, and incidentally mischievous : if a proof of their objectionable nature were a sufficing argument for their removal, it would be impossible to raise a revenue at all. But our popular financial reformers have been too much in the habit of representing the Government as a body hostile to the people, and fond of bleeding them for some selfish purpose of its own; forgetting that, though there have been times in our history when this representation was in a great measure true, those times have
ince passed away; and that the traditional language of ng orators which befitted the days of Walpole and Pel
Pitt, is out of place and unbecoining now. They have Ignorant Impatience of Taxation.
too often incautiously spoken as if taxes were things which could be dispensed with ; evils to be escaped altogether, not evils to be chosen among; and the masses have listened greedily to language which harmonized with their sentiments, and seeined to justify their discontents,
It is, we seriously think, high time to make a systematic and determined stand against the mischievous consequences of these inconsiderate and uncandid representations. It is essential to our future safety and good government that all leaders of public opinion, whether in Parliament or in the press, all on whom now rests, or may hereafter rest, the duty of ruling the country, or of influencing those who rule it-should take a deliberate view of the solemn responsibilities attached to their position, and, warned by indications of the dangerous tendency of an opposite course, should resolve to abstain in future, whatever temporary triumph they may thereby have to forego, from arousing that "ignorant impatience of taxation ” which, if carried much further, and persevered in much longer, bids fair to end in rendering the wise and safe administration of this great empire a task almost impossible. Already it is difficult to modify or exchange a tax without raising a storm which no cautious Chancellor of the Exchequer will readily encounter. Already it is difficult to maintain inviolate sources of revenue which every man, with the slightest insight into public business, knows to be perfectly indispensable. Already, on more than one occasion, legislators, whose class sympathies overpowered their sense of imperial necessities, or whose thirst for popularity was stimulated by an approaching dissolution, have voted the repeal of taxes which it was impossible to spare, and have been compelled to rescind the idle and disreputable vote. Already the most valuable and important schemes have been relinquished, from the unwillingness of the country to submit to the slightest additional expense for their promotion, or still more from the dislike felt by the Government of the day to risk the unpopularity of proposing such addition. Already questions of the widest range, and the most vital moment to the grandeur and stability of our empire-Colonial questions, European questions, Judicial Reforms-are discussed, not as matters involving high statesmanship and philosophic p:triotism, but as they bear upon the financial prospects of the year, as portion of the details of the army and navy estimates! In April last, Lord Truro distinctly alleged the unwillingness of the House of Commons to vote the necessary funds, or, as it afterwards arpeared, the reluctance of ministers to ask for them—as a ground why he dare not propose those Chancery reforms which every lawyer and every statesman concurred in declaring absolutely indispensable. He is reported to have said, “ His noble frierd seemed not aware of the extreme jealousy with which that House looks upon any increase in the expense of the judicial departments of the State. There lies the evil. The temper of the present time is not disposed to make the necessary sacrifice for the adıninistration of justice. The business of the Court of Chancery has greatly increased; it is in fact extremely heavy. There is not sufficient judicial strength there; and it is very doubtful whether the House of Commons would add to that judicial strength. There is terrible and stinging sarcasm in all this ; and the temper here pointed at is fraught with menace and with mischief. We shall scarcely be accused, by any who have watched our course from the beginning, of being advocates either of lavish expenditure or of needless taxation : we have fought in the ranks of retrenchment and reform too earnestly and too long not to have earned the right to speak our thoughts now, and to be listened to with patience and candour when we say, that England can well bear, and ought not to grudge, any expenditure needed for the maintenance of the national credit, for the completion and consolidation of the national interests, for the perfecting of our judicial institutions, for the collection of that full and close statistical information without which rulers must often be working in the dark, and for the remuneration of those public services which, where truly, ably, and conscientiously rendered, it is not easy to overpay. We warn the country that the danger is imminent and serious, when a low and bastard economy has become the god of our idolatry, when a Lord Chancellor can utter without shame, and without clear untruth, such a plea for misgovernment as we have quoted. What ought to be done, dares not be done, (we are told,) because our senators take a narrow, partial, short-sighted view of their duties, and forget that they have other and higher functions than that of mere guardians of the public purse. They forget that they are intrusted with the money of the nation, in order that they may purchase therewith those blessings which the nation needs, and on which its happiness, reputation, and prosperity depend. They forget that their duty is so to dispense the public revenue as to further most effectually those objects which the public has at heart, and for which the community consents to be taxed; and that, if the first of these be defence against foreign foes, the second, at least, is the administration of prompt, easy, and impartial justice at home. In proportion as Lord Truro's charge is true—and it is impossible entirely to gainsay it,-in proportion as ministers shrink, and are excusable in shrinking, from applying to the House for needful funds for important and righteous purposes, out of a dread of its parsimoReform versus Retrenchment.
* The House, we rejoice to say, vindicated itself from this charge, in as far, at least, as it voted the salaries of two new judges without remonstrance. But the timid and hesitating way in which Lord John Russell proposed the vote, and his evident reluctance to do so, and dread of its probable reception, spoke volumes.
nious temper; and in proportion as this temper has been fostered by the class of financial reformers to whom we have referred, are we justified in saying, that the sticklers for “cheap government' are—unconsciously perhaps, and unintentionally-the supporters of mal-administration ;-that matters have reached a point at which Reform or Retrenchment no longer go hand in hand, but are pitted against one another; that, in a word, those who would save the money of the people, and those who would spend it well, are no longer identical, but distinct, at issue, and antagonistic. Economy in the public expenditure is a great object and a sacred duty; but there are aims yet worthier and nobler, and obligations yet holier and more imperative. The education of our brutal and neglected masses is one of these. The promotion of those sanitary reforms, on which health, life, decency, and morality, so essentially depend, is one of these. The amendment of our judicial system, till it becomes in fact what it claims to be in theory, is another. The reform of our prisons, of the provision for juvenile criminals, of our whole arrangements for secondary punishments, is again an obligation of paramount magnitude, and clamorous for immediate initiation. The maintenance of those colonial interests which bind our distant dependencies to the mother country, on which hangs the future spread and permanence of our special and highly valued form of civilisation, is another of those mighty objects with which no mere considerations of immediate parsimony can be allowed to come into competition. And, finally, a prior and more sacred claim than any pecuniary saving, is the unimpaired preservation of those effective elements and external manifestations of national strength and vigour, which will not only secure Great Britain from personal danger, but will enable her to speak with decision and with influence, when she speaks at all ; which will render her in future, as in the past, the protectress of the weak and the refuge of the oppressed; which will enable her, when civilisation is endangered, when humanity is outraged, when morality is trampled under foot, to remonstrate in that language of disgust and indignation which could not be rashly disregarded ; which, in a word—when one sovereign tramples out the guaranteed and consolidated freedom of his subjects, as in the case of Hesse; when another summons in the savage succour of a barbarous power to aid him in crushing the liberties of a generous and long-descended people, as in the case of Hungary; when a third violates every promise, ravishes every right, sanctions every cruelty, sets at nought every decency, as in the case of Naples; or when the uncontrolled citizens of a powerful State do not scruple to turn pirates, and invade an unoffending neighbour, simply because they covet her possessions, as in the case of Cuba-will empower her, when such iniquities are perpetrated, to step forward, fearless of the consequences, and bold in her conscious capacity to meet them, and say, “ These things shall not be !"
These considerations appear to us so important at the present juncture, and in the actual state of the public mind, that we are glad to fortify ourselves by the opinions of a writer whose deep popular sympathies it is impossible to doubt, and whose deliberate and searching wisdom has won him the first place among social philosophers, we mean Mr. J. S. Mill. The intense dissatisfaction which would arise were our whole revenue of fifty millions raised by direct taxes, would, he conceives, be productive of more harm than good. . Of the fifty millions in question nearly thirty are pledged, under the most binding obligations, to those whose capital has been borrowed and spent by the State; and while this debt remains unredeemed, a greatly increased impatience of taxation would involve no little danger of a breach of faith similar to that which, in the defaulting States of America, has been produced, and in some of them still continues, from the same cause. That part, indeed, of the public expenditure which is devoted to the maintenance of civil and military establishments, is still in many cases unnecessarily profuse; but though many of the items will bear great reduction, others certainly require increase. There is hardly any public reform or improvement of the first rank, proposed of late years, and still remaining to be effected, which would not probably require, at least for a time, an increased instead of a diminished appropriation of public money: Whether the object be popular education, emigration and colonization, a more efficient and accessible administration of justice, a more judicious treatment of criminals, improvement in the condition of soldiers and sailors, a more effective police, reforms of any kind which, like slave emancipation, require compensation to individual interests ; or, finally, what is as important as any of these, the entertainment of a sufficient staff of able and highly educated public servants, to conduct, in a better than the present awkward manner, the business of legislation and administration ; every one of these things implies considerable expense, and many of them have again and again been prevented by the reluctance which exists to apply to Parliament for an increased grant of public money, though the cost would be repaid, often a hundred-fold, in mere pecuniary allvantage to the community generally. I fear that we should have to wait long for most of these things if taxation were as odious as it probably would be if it were exclusively direct."*
It is time to sum up, and bring this long paper to a close. We have seen that there is no tax to which valid objections do
Principles of Political Economy, vol. ii. p. 418.