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Riot at Constantinople.
German Table Moving.
The Budget.[57]

Karl Marx

London, Friday, April 22, 1853

A telegraphic dispatch has been received to the effect that on the 12th inst. there was a great tumult at Constantinople and the vicinity, fifteen Christians having been killed or wounded by the fanatic Turkish mob.

"Order was immediately restored by means of the military force."

Another dispatch from Copenhagen states that the Chamber or Folketing has rejected the ministerial message on the proposed succession of the Danish Crown. This we may consider as an important check to the diplomacy of Russia, whose interests the message represented, according to the London protocol acknowledging Russia as ultimate heir of the Danish kingdom.[58]

From the Hague we learn that an agitation similar to that which visited England two years ago in the shape of "Roman Catholic aggression,"[59] has now taken hold of the Netherlands, and led to the formation of an ultra-Protestant ministry. Concerning Germany, or rather that portion of it formerly known under the name of the Empire[60], nothing can be more significant of the present state of mind prevailing through the educated middle-class, than a declaration of the editor of The Frankfort Journal, under date of April 19. For the edification of your readers I give you a translation of it:

"The communications we receive by every post, on the subject of table-moving (Tisch-Rücken)[a], are assuming an extent to which, since the memorable `Song on the Rhine,' by Nic. Becker, and the first days of the revolution of March, 1848, we have seen nothing equal. Satisfactory as these communications are, since they prove better than any political raisonnement, in what harmless and innocent times we again find ourselves, we regret that we cannot take further notice of them, fearing that they might entirely overwhelm our readers and ourselves, and absorb in the end all the space of this journal."

"An Englishman"[b] has addressed a letter to The Times, and Lord Palmerston, on the latest Kossuth affair, at the conclusion of which he says:

"When the Coalition Cabinet is gathered to its fathers, or its uncles, or grandfathers, we would delicately hint to the noble lord a new edition of Joe Miller. In fact we opine we shall hear no more of Joe. Palmerston will be the word. It is long. That is a fault! We believe, however, it has already been improved into the Anglo-Saxon Pam. This will suit verse as well as prose, and rhyme with `sham, flam, and cram.'"[c]

In my letter of Tuesday last[d] I gave you a rough sketch of Mr. Gladstone's budget. I have now before me an official publication, filling 50 pages in folio: "The Resolutions to be proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer," and "An expository Statement to accompany the Resolutions," but I shall only touch on those details which would be of interest to foreign readers in the event of their becoming the law of Great Britain.

The most important resolutions are those concerning the Customs. There is a proposal to abolish the duties on 123 minor articles, yielding about £55,000 per annum, and including all furniture woods with four exceptions, as well as fixtures and frames, bricks and tiles. There is to be a reduction, firstly, on the tea duties from 2/21/4 to 1/10 till 5th April, 1854; secondly, on 12 articles of food. The present duty on almonds is to be reduced to 2/2 per cwt.; upon cheese from 5/ to 2/6 per cwt.; on cocoa from 2d. to 1d. per lb.; on nuts from 2/ to 1/ per bushel; on eggs from 10d. to 4d. a hundred; on oranges and lemons to 8d. a bushel; on butter from 10/ to 5/ per cwt.; on raisins from 15/9 to 10/ per cwt.; and on apples from 2/ to 3d. per bushel. The whole of these articles yield, at present, a revenue of £262,000. 'There is, in the third place, to be a reduction on 133 articles of food, yielding a revenue of £70,000. Besides, a simplification is to be applied on a number of articles by the levy of specific instead of ad valorem duties.

As to the Excise, I have already stated the proposed abolition of the soap tax, and the increase in the scale of licenses to brewers and dealers in tea, coffee, tobacco and soap.

As to the Stamps, besides the reduction on attorneys' certificates, and in the advertisement duty, there is to be a reduction of the duty on life assurances, on receipt stamps, on indentures of apprenticeship, and on hackney carriages.

As to Assessed taxes, there is to be a reduction of the taxes on men-servants, private carriages, horses, ponies and dogs, and a reduction of 17½ per cent. in the charge for redemption of land tax.

As to the Post-Office, there is to be a reduction of colonial postages to a uniform rate of 6d.

A general feature of the budget deserving note, is the circumstance of most of its provisions having been forced on the Coalition Ministry, after an obstinate opposition to them in the course of the present session.

Mr. Gladstone proposes now to extend the legacy duty to real property; but on the 1st of March he still opposed Mr. Williams's motion, that real property should he made to pay the "same probate and legacy duties as are now payable on personal property!" He affirmed on that occasion, as the Tory journals do at this very moment, that the exemption was only apparent, and counterbalanced by other duties peculiar to real property. It is equally true, that on the same 1st of March, Mr. Williams threatened Mr. Gladstone with "being replaced by Mr. Disraeli, if he were not to give way on that point."

Mr. Gladstone proposes now to abolish or reduce the protective duties on about 268 minor articles; but on the 3d of March he still opposed Mr. Hume's motion, of "speedily repealing the strictly protective duties on about 285 articles." It is also true that Mr. Disraeli declared on that day that

"we could not cling to the rags and tatters of the Protective System."

Mr. Gladstone proposes now to reduce the advertisement duty by one half; but only four days before he brought out his Budget he opposed Mr. Milner Gibson's motion, to repeal that duty. It is true that he was defeated by a division of the House.

It would be easy to augment this enumeration of concessions made by the Coalition Ministry to the Manchester School.' What do these concessions prove? That the industrial bourgeoisie, weakly represented as it is in the House, are yet the real masters of the situation, and that every Government, whether Whig, Tory, or Coalition, can only keep itself in office, and the bourgeoisie out of office, by doing for them their preliminary work. Go through the records of British legislation since 1825, and you will find that the bourgeoisie is only resisted politically by concession after concession financially. What the Oligarchy fail to comprehend, is, the simple fact that political power is but the offspring of commercial power, and that the class to which they are compelled to yield the latter, will necessarily conquer the former also. Louis XIV himself, when legislating through Colbert in the interest of the manufacturers, was only preparing the revolution of 1789, when his "l'état c 'est moi" was answered by Sieyès with "le tiers état est tout."[e]

Another very striking feature of the budget is the strict adoption of the policy of Mr. Disraeli, "that reckless adventurer" who dared to affirm in the House that the necessary result of commercial free-trade was a financial revolution, that is to say, the gradual commutation of indirect into direct taxation. Indeed, what does Mr. Gladstone propose? He strengthens and extends the system of direct taxation, in order to weaken and to contract the system of indirect taxation.

On the one side he renews the income-tax unaltered for seven years. He extends it to a whole people, to the Irish. He extends it by copying Mr. Disraeli, to a whole class, to the holders of incomes from £100 to £150. He accepts, partially, the extension of the house-tax, proposed by Mr. Disraeli, giving it the name of an altered license-tax and raising the charge for licenses in proportion to the size of the premises. Lastly, he augments direct taxation by £2,000,000, by subjecting real property to the legacy-duty, which was also promised by Mr. Disraeli.

On the other side he attacks indirect taxation under the two forms of Customs and of Excise; in the former by adopting Disraeli's reduction of the tea duties, or by abolishing, reducing, or simplifying the customs duties on 268 articles; in the latter by entirely abolishing the soap-tax.

The only difference between his budget and that of his predecessor, is this, that the one was the author, and that the other is the plagiary; that Disraeli removed the excise-duties in favor of the land-interest, and that Gladstone removes them in favor of the town-interest; that Disraeli proclaimed the principle, but was forced by his exceptional position to falsify the practice, while Gladstone, opposed to the principle, is enabled by his coalition character to carry details through a series of compromises.

What will be the probable fate of the Coalition budget, and what will be the probable attitude assumed by the respective parties?

There are, in general, but three points on which the battle can be fought the Income-Tax, the Legacy-Duty, and Ireland.

The Manchester School has pledged itself to oppose any prolongation of that "horrid inequality," the present Income-Tax. The oracle of Printinghouse-square[f], The Times, has thundered for ten years against that same "monstrosity," and the public prejudice of Great Britain in general has doomed the present system of charging equally all descriptions of income. But on this one point Mr. Gladstone repudiates compromise. As Mr. Disraeli, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, proposed to modify the Income-Tax by establishing a distinction between precarious revenues and realized property, charging the former with 5d. and the latter with 7d. in the pound, the Income-Tax would seem to become the rallying point for the common opposition of the Conservatives, the Manchester School and the "general opinion" represented by The Times.

But will the Manchester men redeem their pledge? This is very doubtful. They are in the commercial habit of pocketing the present profits, and of letting principles shift for themselves. And the present profits offered by Mr. Gladstone's budget are by no means contemptible. Already the tone of the Manchester organs has become very moderate and very conciliatory with regard to the Income-Tax. They begin to comfort themselves with the prospect held out by Mr. Gladstone, that "the whole Income-Tax shall expire in seven years,"[g] forgetting at the opportune moment that, when the late Sir Robert Peel introduced it in 1842, he promised its expiration by the year 1845, and that the extension of a tax is a very awkward way toward its ulterior extinction.

As to The Times, that is the only journal which will profit by Mr. Gladstone's proposal of abolishing the stamp on newspaper supplements. It has to pay for double supplements every day that it publishes them during the week 40,000 pence, or £166 3s. The whole of the 40,000d. remitted by Mr. Gladstone will go into its coffers. We can then conceive that the Cerberus will be soothed down into a lamb, without Mr. Gladstone being metamorphosed into a Hercules. It would be difficult to find in all the Parliamentary history of Great Britain, a more undignified act than this of Mr. Gladstone, buying up the support of a journal by inserting a special provision for it in the budget. The abolition of the Taxes on Knowledge was chiefly asked for with a view to break down the monopoly of the newspaper-leviathans. The "unctuous" Mr. Gladstone adopts only so much of that measure as tends exactly to double the monopoly of The Times.

In principle, we contend that Mr. Gladstone is right in rejecting all distinctions between the sources from which income is derived. If you distinguish between the quality of incomes you must also distinguish between quantity, as in 99 cases out of 100, the quantity of an income constitutes its quality. If you distinguish between their quantities you arrive unavoidably at progressive taxation, and from progressive taxation you tumble directly into a very trenchant sort of Socialism, a thing certainly abhorred by the opponents of Mr. Gladstone. With the narrow and interested interpretation of the difference between fixed and precarious incomes, as made by the Manchester School, we arrive at the ridiculous conclusion that the income of the richest class of England, the trading class, is only a precarious one. Under the pretence of philanthropy they aim at changing a portion of the public burdens from their own shoulders to the backs of the land-owners and fundholders.

As to the extension of the legacy-duty to real property the country party, as cannot be doubted, will vehemently resist it. They naturally desire to receive their successions as heretofore, untaxed; but Mr. Disraeli, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, has acknowledged the injustice of that exception, and the Manchester men will vote as one man with the Ministers. The Morning Advertiser in its number of yesterday[h] informs the country party that should they be imprudent enough to take their stand on the legacy duty, they must abandon all idea of being supported by the Liberals. There exists hardly any privilege to which the British middle class are more bitterly opposed, and there exists also no more striking instance of oligarchic legislation. Pitt introduced in 1796 two bills, the one subjecting personal property to the probate and legacy-duty, and the other imposing the same duties on real property. The two measures were separated because Pitt apprehended a successful opposition from members of both houses to subjecting their estates to those taxes. The first bill passed the House with little or no opposition. Only one division took place, and only 16 members voted against it. The second bill was proceeded with through all its stages, until it came to the third reading, when it was lost by a division of 30 against 30. Pitt, seeing no chance of passing the bill through either house, was forced to withdraw it. If the probate and legacy-duties had been paid on real property since 1796, by far the greater portion of the public debt might have been paid off. The only real objection the country party could now make is the plea that the fundholders enjoy a similar exemption, but they would, of course, not strengthen their position by rousing against them the fundholders, who are gifted with a particular taste for fiscal immunities.

There remains then but one probable chance of successfully opposing the Coalition budget, and this is a coalition of the country party with the Irish Brigade[62]. It is true Mr. Gladstone has endeavored to induce the Irish to submit to the extension of the Income-Tax to Ireland, by making them the gift of four millions and a half of Consolidated Annuities. But the Irish contend that three out of these four and a half millions, connected with the famine of 1846-47,[63] were never intended to constitute a national debt, and have never been acknowledged as such by the Irish people.

The ministry itself seems not to be quite sure of success, since it menaces an early dissolution of the House, unless the budget be accepted as a whole. A formidable suggestion this for the great majority of members whose "pockets have been materially affected by the legitimate expenses of the last contest," and for those Radicals who have clung as closely as possible to the old definition of an Opposition; namely, that it does, in the machine of Government, the duty of the safety-valve in a steam-engine. The safety-valve does not stop the motion of the engine; but preserves it by letting off in vapor the power which might otherwise blow up the whole concern. Thus they let off in vapor the popular demands. They seem to offer motions only to withdraw them afterward, and to rid themselves of their superfluous eloquence.

A dissolution of the House would only reveal the dissolution of the old parties. Since the appearance of the Coalition Ministry, the Irish Brigade has been split up into two factions one govern-mental, the other independent. The country party is likewise split up into two camps the one led by Mr. Disraeli, the other by Sir John Pakington; although now, in the hour of danger, they both rally again around Disraeli. The Radicals themselves are broken up into two sets the Mayfair-men[64] and the Manchester-men. There is no longer any power of cohesion in the old parties, but at the same time there is no power of real antagonism. A new general election would not mend, but only confirm this state of things.

By the election-disclosures the Lower House is sunk as low as it can possibly go. But simultaneously, week after week, it has denounced the rottenness of its foundation, the thorough corruption of the constituencies themselves. Now after these disclosures, will the ministry venture on an appeal to these branded constituencies an appeal to the country? To the country at large they have nothing to offer, holding in one hand the refusal of parliamentary reform, and in the other an Austrian patent, installing them as general informers of the continental police."

Written on April 22, 1853
Reproduced from the New-York Daily Tribune
First published in the New-York Daily Tribune, No. 3761,
and the New-York Semi-Weekly Tribune, No. 829, May 6, 1853
Signed: Karl Marx


[a] The reference is to spiritism, very much in vogue in Germany at the time.—Ed.

[b] The pen-name of A. Richards.—Ed.

[c] Quoted from the anonymous article "The Times and the New Gunpowder Plot" by A. Richards, published in The Morning Advertiser, No. 19291, April 21, 1853.—Ed.

[d] See this volume, pp. 57-62.—Ed.

[e] This refers to the following passage from Emmanuel Sieyès' Qu'est-ce que le tiers-état?: "What is the third estate? Everything.—What was it until now politically? Nothing.—What is it striving for? To be something.—Ed.

[f] The square in London where The Times had its main offices.—Ed.

[g] Quoted from William Gladstone's speech in the House of Commons on April 18, 1853, published in The Times, No. 21406, April 19, 1853.—Ed.

[h] April 21, 1853.—Ed.

[57] The editors of the New-York Daily Tribune published the following note to this article in the same issue of May 6, 1853: "Our readers will find a masterly exposition of Mr. Gladstone's budget, and of its bearing on the present stated parties in England, in the letter of our London Correspondent, Dr. Marx, published in this morning's Tribune. We have seen nowhere an abler criticism on the budget or on its author, and do not expect to see one."

[58] A reference to the London Protocol of May 8, 1852 on the integrity of the Danish monarchy, signed by the representatives of Austria, Denmark, England, France, Prussia, Russia and Sweden. It was based on the Protocol adopted by the above-mentioned countries (except Prussia) at the London Conference on August 2, 1850, which supported the indivisibility of the lands belonging to the Danish Crown, including the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein. The 1852 Protocol mentioned the Russian Emperor (as a descendant of Duke Charles Peter Ulrich of Holstein-Gottorp who reigned in Russia as Peter III) among the lawful claimants to the Danish throne who had waived their rights in favour of Duke Christian of Glücksburg who was proclaimed successor to King Frederick VII. This provided an opportunity for the Russian Tsar to claim the Danish Crown in the event of the Glücksburg dynasty dying out.

[59] A reference to attempts by the Pope in 1850 to assume the right of appointing Catholic bishops for Britain. This was opposed by the Church of England and the government. A law was passed in 1851 which decreed the Pope's appointments invalid.

[60] A reference to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation (962-1806), which at different periods included the German, Italian, Austrian, Hungarian and Bohemian lands, Switzerland and the Netherlands. It was a motley conglomeration of feudal kingdoms and principalities, church lands and free towns with different political structures, legal standards and customs.

[61] The Manchester School—a trend in economic thinking which reflected the interests of the industrial bourgeoisie. Its supporters, known as Free Traders, advocated removal of protective tariffs and non-intervention by the government in economic life. The centre of the Free Traders' agitation was Manchester, where the movement was headed by two textile manufacturers, Richard Cobden and John Bright, who founded the Anti-Corn Law League in 1838. In the 1840s and 1850s the Free Traders were a separate political group, which later formed the Left wing of the Liberal Party.

[62] The Irish Brigade—the Irish faction in the British Parliament from the 1830s to the 1850s. It was led by Daniel O'Connell until 1847. As neither the Tories nor the Whigs had a decisive majority the Irish Brigade, alongside the Free Traders, could tip the balance in Parliament and. in some cases decide the fate of the government.

In the early 1850s, a number of M.P.s belonging to this faction entered into an alliance with the radical Irish Tenant-Right League and formed the so-called Independent Opposition in the House of Commons. However, the leaders of the Irish Brigade soon concluded an agreement with British ruling circles and refused to support the League's demands, which led to the demoralisation and final dissolution of the Independent Opposition in 1859.

[63] In 1845-47 there was famine in Ireland due to the ruin of farms and the pauperisation of the peasants. Although blight had caused a great shortage of potatoes, the principal diet of the Irish peasants, the English landlords continued to export food from the country, condemning the poorest sections of the population to starvation. About a million people starved to death and the new wave of emigration caused by the famine carried away another million. As a result, large areas of Ireland were depopulated and the abandoned land was turned into pastures by the Irish and English landlords.

[64] The Mayfair-men, or Mayfair Radicals—the name given to a group of aristocratic politicians (Molesworth, Bernal Osborne and others), who flirted with democratic circles. Mayfair is an upper-class residential district in London bordering Hyde Park.

Source: Marx and Engels Collected Works, Volume 12 (pp.67-74), Progress Publishers, Moscow 1979
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