12 APRIL 1856, Page 1


As the smoke of actual warfare clears away, the course into which the politician reverts is not unlike that of the voyager who under the variable sky of this season begins a long passage. The war of elements for a time fills up the whole scene ; there is nothing before the sight but the dark and raging billows, the driving rain, and the tumbling clouds. The storm passes ; the sun breaks forth ; the waters calm ; the old familiar objects ap- pear one after another. Other sails gradually rise to view ; the grampus is seen, the sea-birds resume their fishing ; now and then a well-known promontory on shore emerges ; but beyond, a dark streak in the distance is the ominous sign of the next storm. So it is now in politics : not without an eye to the troublei of the next war after this April peace, we have sunk into the tran- quil course of routine polities at home, and the old subjects tumble up, big and little, like the grampuses and anchovies of another scene.

"Public education "—a creature of the grampus dimensions —comes before us this week, accompanied by our old friend Lord John Russell of "civil and religious liberty" renown. The old familiar " question " rises in the shape of his reso- lutions taken in Committee by the House of Commons ; and the debate too has all its wonted characteristics. The annual mo- tion is debated in the annual fashion, with the display of much information," much "sincere desire" to promote the object from Members partially opposed to Lord John but heartily sup- porting him in the main ; with the annual objections to " cen- tralization," to compulsion, and to the paucity of "religious teaching." But in the end, Lord John's resolutions are a failure ; and the only thing we can foresee is, that public education is still destined to be an annual measure.

Scotland too has her educational anniversary in Parliament. Mindful of former difficulties in attempting a system of public education for Scotland, the Lord-Advocate has introduced two little bills to make an inoffensive beginning,—one slightly to modify the existing parochial schools, by bringing them under Government inspection ; the other to establish schools in existing vacuums. But the real value of the present attempt consists in the abolition of sectarian tests ; and hence the support from Scotch Members who severely criticize the shortcomings of the scheme.

Mr. Milner Gibson carried the second reading of his bill to modify the Oath of Abjuration, by which Members of Parliament are required to abjure the successors of the Pretender who do not exist, and by which Jews are excluded because Members ab- jure the Pretender on "the true faith of a Christian," which jews are by birth incapable of saying. It was, of course, a re- production of old arguments. So far as the debate was concerned, Members might have 'spared themselves the trouble by stopping at home, and allowing the Times to reprint one of its old numbers for a previous debate : it would have done just as well. We had the plea for maintaining the Christian character of the House, and the warning that if the Jew came in "the Atheist" might follow him ; as if the Atheist had not preceded him. We had again Mr. Disraeli's proposal for conferring the British fran- ohise upon the Jews as a reward for the benefits which Christian--

ity originally derived from that race. If Mr. Disraeli were a French Emperor, he would bestow the cross of the Legion of Honour upon Messrs. Moses and Son in recognition of the military services performed by Joshua. It is only upon this ground that Mr. Disraeli, who inhabits Hampden's county, can _bring himself to admit Jews into Parliament. However, he made a good proposal, quite consistent with the whole course of legislation on the subject : if the House would go into Committee on Mr. Milner Gibson's bill, he said, they might in Committee modify the oath so as to let in Jews especially, while requiring Christians still to swear on their "true faith.' It is to be sup- posed, also, that the pledge not to countenance the Pretender will be removed in the Committee.

Mr. Muntz moved a resolution declaring "an equitable ad- justment " of the Income and Property tax "essential to the in- terests of the country," and so forth ; as if, at the present day, we were not thinking rather of discontinuing the tax than equitably adjusting it. By this time we ought to have learned that there is no such thing as an equitable adjustment. The tax itself would be equitable, if every man would. tell the true state of his income exactly and allow the percentage to be fairly levied : but as few can screw their courage to the sticking-place in making the return, the inquisition necessary to get at the facts, and the provisions necessary to facilitate the inquisition, become iniqui- tous and intolerable ; and the tax evaded by the equivocator falls heavily on" the honest man. You. might as well attempt an equitable adjustment of society as of the Income-tax. The best " adjustment " will be to discontinue it as soon as possible,—a day not very far distant, unless the Russian war is to be followed. by an American war.

Lord Eglinton,—who is constantly proving his capacity for practical questions, "the tournament" notwithstanding,—asked for an inquiry into the Bank Charter Act of 1844. He ap- proves of the act, but not of the absolute limits whioh it fixes ; and he has a hankering for an issue of one-pound notes. Opinions differ as to-thi effect of additional- !' flimsies" upon an augmentation of our capital, but such respectable opinions are in favour of revising the Bank Charter Act that we shall probably have inquiry; though as yet Governmaint contemplates no change, and objects, through the Duke of Argyll, to inquiry at the pre- sent time.

The Committee of Supply afforded Mr. Cowan an opportunity for recording a protest against the practice of billeting soldiers in Scotland upon private families ; which is bad for the private families, as the English practice of billeting them in public- houses is bad for the soldiers. Mr. Peel made light of the ob- jection. As troops have sometimes to be mow& suddenly, and must then be billeted wherever they can find shelter, he insisted upon the right of lodging them in the private families of the Scotch, until barracks can be built. Mr. Peel stated the official convenience with extreme distinctness, but left the wishes and feelings of the Scotch so completely out of sight—so completody out of the tone of his voice—that there was for the hour a com- plete Scotch rebellion, and Ministers sustained a defeat.