For the second reading 347 Against 304
The majority is 43. The Lord be praised! we have polled all our men! And then more cheers—taken up outside in the deeper bellow of the big crowd, and then more waving of hats and another great reception to Mr. Gladstone. And so, as the streaks of day rose on this hour of Ireland’s coming dawn, we went to our several homes.
THE BUDGET, OBSTRUCTION, AND EGYPT.
[Sidenote: Sir William.]
Sir William Harcourt, on April 24th, had the double honour of speaking before the smallest audience and making the best Budget speech for many years. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has two manners. He can be as boisterous, exuberant, and gay, as any speaker in the House, and he can also be as lugubrious as though his life had been spent in the service of an undertaker. He was in the undertaker mood this evening. Slowly, solemnly, sadly, he unfolded his story of the finances of the country. He had taken the trouble to write down every word of what he had to say—an evil habit to which he has adhered all his life. But, notwithstanding these two things—which are both, to my mind, capital defects in Parliamentary speaking—Sir William put his case with such extraordinary lucidity, that everybody listened in profound attention to every word he uttered; and when he sate down, he was almost overwhelmed with the chorus of praise which descended on his head from all quarters of the House.
Sir William Harcourt imitated most Chancellors of the Exchequer, in keeping his secret to the latest possible moment. Like a good dramatist also, he arranged his figures and the matter of his speech so well that the final solution became inevitable, and the final solution, of course, was the addition of a penny to the income-tax. The debate which followed the Budget speech was quiet, discursive, friendly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Picton is a formidable man to Chancellors of the Exchequer—for he has very strong ideas of reform—especially on the breakfast-table; but Mr. Picton is rational as well as Radical; and he cordially acknowledged the duty of postponing even the reforms on which Radicals have set their hearts until more convenient times and seasons.
It was after midnight when a very serious bit of business took place. The House gets to know beforehand when anything like serious debate is going to take place—even though there be no notice. Accordingly, in spite of the lateness of the hour, the House was pretty full, and there was a preliminary air of expectation and excitement. One of the iron rules of the House of Commons is that the Speaker cannot leave the chair until a motion for the adjournment of the House has been carried. This is always proposed by the senior Government Whip. The motion is usually carried in dumb show, and with that mumble