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Chapter IV, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9

The year 1863 - Summary - Meeting of Parliament - Marriage of the Prince of Wales: Public Rejoicings: Fatal Accidents in London: Votes by Parliament - Mr. Gladstone's Financial Statement: His Proposal for the Taxation of Charities: Objected to and abandoned - Mr. Dillwyn's Motion on the Irish Church: Speech of Mr. Bernal Osborne: Reply of Sir Hugh Cairns - Close of the Session - Polish Insurrection of 1863: Its Origin and Progress: Attitude of Prussia: Diplomatic Intervention by Earl Russell: Attitude of France: Russia offers an Amnesty: Earl Russell's Six Points: Russia declines to entertain them: France proposes to England and Austria a Definite Engagement for Common Action: Proposal declined: Reflections: Mouraviff takes the -Command against the Insurgents: Affair of the Zamoyski Palace: Suppression of the Insurrection - Rupture of Diplomatic Relations with Brazil: How occasioned - Corn Ships from America - The Relief Fund - Dr. Pusey Indicts Mr. Jowett for Heresy- Seizure of the Alexandra - The Prince of Wales at the Guildhall: At the Oxford Commemoration - Inauguration of Two Albert Memorials - Deaths of Eminent Men in 1863: Sir James Outram; Sketch of his Career: Lord Clyde; His Achievements and Character: Lord Lyndhurst: Sir George Lewis: Archbishop Whately; His Remarkable Character and Powers; Sketch of his Career - Affairs in Japan: Murder of Mr. Richardson: Compensation Refused by the Prince of Satsuma: Kajosima, his Capital, Bombarded and Burnt.
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The year 1863, on which this history now enters, was one which, so far as England was concerned, was unmarked by political agitation and unclouded by the anxieties of war. There was much distress in Lancashire, owing to the entire or partial stoppage of innumerable looms, till now dependent on American cotton. The world was hunted through by the agents of the great cotton industry, in order to find out new sources of supply, or, by introducing or fostering cotton culture in various suitable localities, to secure at least an increased supply in the future. In India, every road leading down the Western Ghauts was traversed by an unwonted string of country carts, conveying the precious commodity to some port of shipment; still, notwithstanding all that could be done, the supply of cotton remained exceedingly limited, and much of what came was of a very inferior quality. A general subscription, set on foot towards the end of 1862, produced in the first month of 1863 the sum of £750,000 for the relief of the distress. It was observed that the general trade and industry of the country continued to prosper, notwithstanding the collapse of this one branch of it. Especially in every branch of the hardware trade, particularly in the sale of arms and munitions of war, immense quantities of which were made in this country to the order of both belligerents, an activity was apparent exceeding all former experience. The basis upon which, under the regime of Free Trade, the industry of this country reposed, was proved by this experience to be far broader and more solid than the most destructive and blasting storm, so long as it affected only one portion of the field, could seriously impair.

Parliament met as usual in the first week of February, and was opened by commission. The first clause of the royal speech informed both Houses of the fact which by this time every one was aware of, that, since they last met, Her Majesty had "declared her consent to a marriage between His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and Her Royal Highness the Princess Alexandra, daughter of Prince Christian of Denmark." The marriage was celebrated in the following month, and the rejoicings with which it was accompanied were so genuine and so universal, that it seems worth while to dwell at somewhat greater length than would otherwise be necessary on the circumstances of the auspicious event.

The preliminaries were settled in the course of the visit paid by the Queen to the continent in the autumn of 1862, and in consequence the Princess became a guest at Osborne in November. Her father, Prince Christian of the house of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg, was at that time heir-presumptive to the crown of Denmark, to which he succeeded in 1865. Everything having been arranged, the yacht Victoria and Albert was sent over, and received the bride and her suite on board at Antwerp. An escorting squadron, among the ships of which was the then formidable iron-clad the Warrior, attended and welcomed her to the shores of her new country. The Princess, after a singularly fine passage, landed at Graves- end on the 7th March, and then travelled straight to Windsor. It need scarcely be said that demonstrations of loyal and affectionate interest were not wanting along any part of the line of route. " In one of the rooms of the castle, looking out upon the entrance drive, the Queen anxiously awaited the coming of her royal daughter, for an hour or more before dark, with the young Princesses Louise and Beatrice, and it was not until it became too dark to note what was going on below that the group on which all eyes were fixed retired. In the evening, spite of the rain which still descended in torrents, the town was illuminated; and conspicuous to all the country for twenty miles round was the castle on the hill, for every window was a blaze of light, in brilliant welcome of the young Princess who had just arrived within its walls."

The marriage took place on the 10th March, and the ceremonial employed on the occasion, having been royally conceived, and adjusted with careful forethought in every part, was brilliant and effective to a degree which public pageants in England seldom reach. Four processions or cortèges left the castle in succession. The first, that of the royal guests, among whom were the Maharajah Dhuleep Singh, and a crowd of petty German princes not yet Bismarckised, set out an hour before the time fixed for the wedding. The second cortege, in eleven carriages, conveyed the royal family and the Queen's household. The third cortege was the procession of the bridegroom, and the fourth the procession of the bride. The marriage was performed in St. George's Chapel, where, we are told, " the altar was richly decorated with massive golden sacramental plate, golden candlesticks, superb alms- dishes, costly flagons, and several quaint and highly- wrought chalices and patens." The Archbishop of Canterbury, of course, officiated, and the Eton boys cheered lustily as the happy pair drove away, en route for Osborne. On the same night, London and all the principal towns in England were illuminated. An immense and thoroughly good-humoured crowd filled all the streets, and admired the coloured transparencies, the Prince of Wales' feathers, the true love-knots, the A A's, and fifty other devices, which the inventive affection of the people towards a throne and a royal house the most ancient in Europe had rapidly improvised. At Birmingham, the outline and the chief structural lines of the tower and cupola of St. Philip's Church stood out in flame against a dark and starless sky. The city of Edinburgh was strikingly illuminated. The noble castle was lined with small paraffine lamps, which clearly defined its contour, and fireworks blazed till a late hour from the Salisbury Crags and Arthur Seat. In London, the illuminations were characterised by the utmost splendour, but untoward events cast a shadow over the popular rejoicing. Though nothing could be more orderly and well-disposed than the behaviour of the crowd, yet the pressure of the enormous multitudes that filled the City thoroughfares up to a late hour of the night was fatal to six women, crushed or trodden to death between the Mansion House and the foot of Ludgate Hill, and was the cause of more or less severe injuries to not less than a hundred persons. The Prince of Wales addressed a feeling letter to the Lord Mayor on the subject of these sad accidents, expressing his deep regret that what was meant for rejoicing should have become an occasion of mourning.

The House of Commons, on the motion of Lord Palmerston, cheerfully granted to the Prince and Princess of Wales, in addition to and augmentation of the revenues of the Duchy of Cornwall, amounting to about £60,000 per annum, a revenue of £50,000 a year from the Consolidated Fund, of which sum £10,000 was separately settled on the Princess. It was further proposed by the Premier, and assented to, that a jointure of £30,000 a year should be secured to the Princess in the event of her surviving her husband.

The financial statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Gladstone, was made on the 16th April, and was universally considered to be a masterly and very satisfactory exposé of the monetary and commercial condition of the country. The estimates of revenue and expenditure for the coming financial year showed a large probable surplus; and this surplus Mr. Gladstone applied to the reduction of the tea duty and of the income tax. Certain minor features of the financial programme were not allowed to pass unchallenged. One such consisted in levying a license duty on clubs, on the ground that, as wine and spirituous liquors were sold in them to the members, they ought not to be exempted from the burden which every hotel-keeper and licensed victualler was liable to. But as there were not wanting many to point out the obvious and essential differences between a club and a public-house, this portion of the financial scheme was abandoned. The other feature referred to was Mr. Gladstone's proposal for the taxation of charities. The Chancellor of the Exchequer had conceived the notion that the exemption from income tax enjoyed by charitable institutions was equivalent to a burden of corresponding amount imposed on the general body of tax-payers; and carried away by the ardour of his genius, and that vehement enthusiasm with which he is wont to entertain and follow out the last novel theory which he has embraced, he had worked himself up to the conviction that the founders of charities, far from deserving the eulogies which an undiscerning public innocently lavishes upon them, were in truth little better than a set of selfish hypocrites, gaining credit for doing good, but gaining it at other people's expense. "It is not fair," he said, " that the tax-payers of this country, the fathers of families, men labouring to support their wives and children, should pay taxes augmented in order to encourage gentlemen on their death-beds, when they can no longer enjoy the money themselves, to devise ingenious methods of disposing of their wealth, which shall cause their names to be written up in enormous capital letters, and create governors of trusts, who shall meet together at sumptuous dinners from year to year, in order to glorify the pious and immortal memory of the man who has devised this ingenious method of disposing of his property." He proceeded to give a number of remarkable details, illustrating the fantastic and almost vexatious character which belongs to a vast number of small bequests which fall under the general head of " charities," establishing thus, beyond all question, a case for administrative or judicial inquiry into the general question of charities, but not in any way strengthening the argument in favour of the particular measure which he was advocating. The sum lost to the revenue through the exemption from income tax of the property of charities was estimated by Mr. Gladstone to amount to at least £250,000.

The great charitable institutions of the metropolis and elsewhere at once took the alarm, and a deputation, formidable in numbers, rank, and respectability, was soon organised to wait on the adventurous financier. It was headed by the Duke of Cambridge, President of the Corporation of Christ's Hospital. The Duke led off by stating that if the revenues of Christ's were subjected to the income tax, the governors would be obliged to reduce by no less than forty the number of boys educated and maintained. He was followed by various noble and right reverend speakers, pleading for hospitals and other charitable institutions, the Usefulness of which they showed would be materially curtailed if their exemption from the income tax were withdrawn. The Chancellor of the Exchequer held his ground stoutly, complaining in a serio-comic strain that he was being made rather the butt of a public meeting than the receiver of a respectful deputation. But the opposition to the project in Parliament met it fairly on the merits, and unmasked the singular hallucination by which Mr. Gladstone had allowed his powerful mind to be overspread. The notion that the tax-paying community was burdened more heavily than it ought to be in order that the charities might go scot free, was shown to be utterly unmeaning. Those really pay income tax who profit by the expenditure of the revenues on which the income tax is levied In the case of a charitable institution, this can be, neither the founder, nor yet the trustees, but simply the objects of the charity - the patients whom the hospital receives, the boys whom the school clothes and educates. To impose income tax on the revenues of such institutions is, therefore, equivalent to taxing pro tanto the class of helpless persons whom they are destined to relieve and educate; and hardships will arise in one of two forms - either in the form of the abridgment of the benefits now receivable by each individual, or in the form of the diminution of the number of individuals to whom those benefits can be extended. In any case, the burden of the tax will really fall on a class of persons whom, as matters stand, the Legislature, in consideration of their poverty, justly exempts from income tax. As for the abuses which undeniably existed in connection with the charities themselves, that, it was urged, is a separate question altogether, and to subject the charities to income tax will not even remotely tend to the abatement of these abuses. It might be a vindictive protest against them, but it could not be their cure. "What," asked Mr. Disraeli, " is the remedy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer for the enormous imperfections in the old bequests - for the evils in those petty charities which he has called forth from their obscure existence - for the abuses connected with those magnificent foundations of hospitals and colleges which have contributed so much to the promotion of education and the development of benevolence in this country? Why, it is the application of the income tax! " In the end it became so evident to the Government that the feeling of the House was opposed to the taxation of charities, that the measure was withdrawn.

In the course of the session, the subject of the Irish Established Church - which had slept since the old fights about the Appropriation Clause, nearly thirty years before - was reopened by the motion of Mr. Dillwyn, the member for Swansea, for the appointment of a select Committee to inquire how far the distribution of endowments for religious purposes in Ireland might be amended so as to conduce to the greater welfare of all classes of Her Majesty's Irish subjects. The speech of Mr. Bernai Osborne in support of the motion - replete as it was with ironical and humorous sallies, with damaging exposures and ridiculous contrasts - was the great feature of the debate, at least on the attacking side. Mr. Bernai Osborne elaborately argued that the existence of the Irish Establishment was a startling political anomaly, the like of which was not to be found elsewhere in Europe. These views were shared in by a large section of the English people. The motion of Mr. Dillwyn was somewhat feebly resisted by the Government, Sir Robert Peel disputing his and Mr. Bernai Osborne's statistics, and Sir George Grey, though - with the consistency that always distinguished that veteran reformer - he declared the Irish Church to be indefensible in principle, yet arguing that the time for its removal was not yet come. But a remarkably able and business-like speech from Sir Hugh Cairns raised up for the time the falling standard of ascendancy, and almost dissipated the effect of Mr. Bernai Osborne's speech. A politician who overstates his case, and is not careful to ascertain his facts with minute accuracy, will never succeed in overthrowing an institution which, however theoretically open to assault, is yet deeply rooted in the past, and in the memories, traditions, affections, nay, even in the pride and the prejudice, of an energetic and gifted race. That Mr. Bernai Osborne was chargeable with this carelessness, the dissection which his speech received at the hands of Sir Hugh Cairns sufficiently proved. Of course, the essential features of the case could not be altered; all the eloquence of all the Orangemen in the world could no more prove the Irish Establishment to be just than it could make out that black was white. But this sort of thing was done: where Bernai Osborne had made an impression by stating that in such and such a parish the whole ecclesiastical revenues, amounting to £650 per annum, were appropriated to the benefit of seven Protestants, the Catholic population of the parish being 1,300, Sir Hugh Cairns, coming after him, proved, by reference to returns of undoubted authority, that the total population of the said parish was but 673, that the ecclesiastical revenues only amounted to the modest sum of £213 6s. 8d., and that the Protestants in the parish attained to the respectable figure of forty-five persons. We are not stating the facts of any real case, but merely giving the general drift and bearing of a speech which the: writer heard and admired. The anomaly, even according to the state of facts admitted by Sir Hugh Cairns, really existed; but it was at least not of that startling and ludicrous enormity which Mr. Bernai Osborne would have made his hearers believe: his credit as an assailant was effectually damaged; and when Sir Hugh Cairns I left off speaking, the Irish Church was felt on both sides I of the House to be safe for the next five years at least.

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Pictures for Chapter IV, of Cassells Illustrated History of England, Volume 9

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