In manner and delivery Mr. Gladstone's budget was less fascinating
than usual. Was he dejected by its preternatural simplicity, for which he almost apologized,—or conscious of the claim of other and sadder political subjects on the minds of his audience,—or painfully interested himself in the same theme? He only became his natural self when engaged in the warm attack on the proud imaginations of the friends of beer, who instead of being deadened by the stupifying fumes of that heavy fluid, exaggerate the pressure of a 6,000,000/. duty into a 20,000,000/. cost. He indulged himself once, however, in a very characteristic Gladstonism, which no doubt materially soothed the pain of his surrender to Mr. Sheridan concerning fire insurance. The fire- insurance duty, he said, was not so much a "tax upon prudence" as "a tax upon property, with two exemptions, —the exemption of the imprudent who do not insure, and of the very large proprietors who are self-insured." The proposals were well received, and Mr. Gladstone's apology for their simplicity blandly accepted by the House, who seemed to think it a superfluous courtesy.