The Americans are proud of much that they have done in this war, and indeed much has been done which may justify pride; but of nothing are they so proud as of the noble dimensions and quick growth of their government debt. That Mr. Secretary Chase, the American Chancellor of the Exchequer, participates in this feeling I will not venture to say; but if he do not, he is well-nigh the only man in the States who does not do so. The amount of expenditure has been a subject of almost national pride, and the two millions of dollars a day, which has been roughly put down as the average cost of the war, has always been mentioned by Northern men in a tone of triumph. This feeling is, I think, intelligible; and although we cannot allude to it without a certain amount of inward sarcasm, a little gentle laughing in the sleeve, at the nature of this national joy, I am not prepared to say that it is altogether ridiculous. If the country be found able and willing to pay the bill, this triumph in the amount of the cost will hereafter be regarded as having been anything but ridiculous. In private life an individual will occasionally be known to lavish his whole fortune on the accomplishment of an object which he conceives to be necessary to his honor. If the object be in itself good, and if the money be really paid, we do not laugh at such a man for the sacrifices which he makes. For myself, I think that the object of the Northern States in this war has been good. I think that they could not have avoided the war without dishonor, and that it was incumbent on them to make themselves the arbiters of the future position of the South, whether that future position shall or shall not be one of secession. This they could only do by fighting. Had they acceded to secession without a civil war, they would have been regarded throughout Europe as having shown themselves inferior to the South, and would for many years to come have lost that prestige which their spirit and energy had undoubtedly won for them; and in their own country such submission on their part would have practically given to the South the power of drawing the line of division between the two new countries. That line, so drawn, would have given Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri to the Southern Republic. The great effect of the war to the North will be, that the Northern men will draw the line of secession, if any such line be drawn. I still think that such line will ultimately be drawn, and that the Southern States will be allowed to secede. But if it be so, Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri will not be found among these seceding States; and the line may not improbably be driven south of North Carolina and Tennessee. If this can be so, the object of the war will, I think, hereafter be admitted to have been good. Whatever may be the cost in money of joining the States which I have named to a free-soil Northern people, instead of allowing them to be buried in that dismal swamp which a confederacy of Southern slave States will produce, that cost can hardly be too much. At the present moment there exists in England a strong sympathy with the South, produced partly by the unreasonable vituperation with which the North treated our government at the beginning of the war, and by the capture of Mason and Slidell; partly also by that feeling of good-will which a looker on at a combat always has for the weaker side. But, although this sympathy does undoubtedly exist, I do not imagine that many Englishmen are of opinion that a confederacy of Southern slave States will ever offer to the general civilization of the world very many attractions. It cannot be thought that the South will equal the North in riches, in energy, in education, or general well-being. Such has not been our experience of any slave country; such has not been our experience of any tropical country; and such especially has not been our experience of the Southern States of the North American Union. I am no abolitionist, but to me it seems impossible that any Englishman should really advocate the cause of slavery against the cause of free soil. There are the slaves, and I know that they cannot be abolished--neither they nor their chains; but, for myself, I will not willingly join my lot with theirs. I do not wish to have dealings with the African negro, either as a free man or as a slave, if I can avoid them, believing that his employment by me in either capacity would lead to my own degradation.* Such, I think, are the feelings of Englishmen generally on this matter. And if such be the case, will it not be acknowledged that the Northern men have done well to fight for a line which shall add five or six States to that Union which will in truth be a union of free men, rather than to that confederacy which, even if successful, must owe its success to slavery?
* In saying this I fear that I shall be misunderstood, let me use what foot note or other mode of protestation I may to guard myself. In thus speaking of the African negro, I do not venture to despise the work of God's hands. That He has made the negro, for His own good purposes, as He has the Esquimaux, I am aware. And I am aware that it is my duty, as it is the duty of us all, to see that no injury be done to him, and, if possible, to assist him in his condition. When I declare that I desire no dealings with the negro, I speak of him in the position in which I now find him, either as a free servant or a slave. In either position he impedes the civilization and the progress of the white man.
In considering this matter it must be remembered that the five or six States of which we are speaking are at present slave States, but that, with the exception of Virginia--of part only of Virginia--they are not wedded to slavery. But even in Virginia--great as has been the gain which has accrued to that unhappy State from the breeding of slaves for the Southern market--even in Virginia slavery would soon die out if she were divided from the South and joined to the North. In those other States, in Maryland, in Kentucky, and in Missouri, there is no desire to perpetuate the institution. They have been slave States, and as such have resented the rabid abolition of certain Northern orators. Had it not been for those orators, and their oratory, the soil of Kentucky would now have been free. Those five or six States are now slave States; but a line of secession drawn south of them will be the line which cuts off slavery from the North. If those States belong to the North when secession shall be accomplished, they will belong to it as free States; but if they belong to the South, they will belong to the South as slave States. If they belong to the North, they will become rich as the North is, and will share in the education of the North. If they belong to the South, they will become poor as the South is, and will share in the ignorance of the South. If we presume that secession will be accomplished--and I for one am of that opinion--has it not been well that a war should be waged with such an object as this? If those five or six States can be gained, stretching east and west from the Atlantic to the center of the continent, hundreds of miles beyond the Mississippi, and north and south over four degrees of latitude--if that extent of continent can be added to the free soil of the Northern territory, will not the contest that has done this have been worth any money that can have been spent on it? So much as to the object to be gained by the money spent on the war! And I think that in estimating the nature of the financial position which the war has produced it was necessary that we should consider the value of the object which has been in dispute. The object, I maintain, has been good. Then comes the question whether or no the bill will be fairly paid--whether they who have spent the money will set about that disagreeable task of settling the account with a true purpose and an honest energy. And this question splits itself into two parts. Will the Americans honestly wish to pay the bill; and if they do so wish, will they have the power to pay it? Again that last question must be once more divided. Will they have the power to pay, as regards the actual possession of the means, and if possessing them, will they have the power of access to those means? The nation has obtained for itself an evil name for repudiation. We all know that Pennsylvania behaved badly about her money affairs, although she did at last pay her debts. We all know that Mississippi has behaved very badly about her money affairs, and has never paid her debts, nor does she intend to pay them. And, which is worse than this, for it applies to the nation generally and not to individual States, we all know that it was made a matter of boast in the States that in the event of a war with England the enormous amount of property held by Englishmen in the States should be confiscated. That boast was especially made in the mercantile City of New York; and when the matter was discussed it seemed as though no American realized the iniquity of such a threat. It was not apparently understood that such a confiscation on account of a war would be an act of national robbery justified simply by the fact that the power of committing it would be in the hands of the robbers. Confiscation of so large an amount of wealth would be a smart thing, and men did not seem to perceive that any disgrace would attach to it in the eyes of the world at large. I am very anxious not to speak harsh words of the Americans; but when questions arise as to pecuniary arrangements, I find myself forced to acknowledge that great precaution is at any rate necessary. But, nevertheless, I am not sure that we shall be fair if we allow ourselves to argue as to the national purpose in this matter from such individual instances of dishonesty as those which I have mentioned. I do not think it is to be presumed that the United States as a nation will repudiate its debts because two separate States may have been guilty of repudiation. Nor am I disposed to judge of the honesty of the people generally from the dishonest threatenings of New York, made at a moment in which a war with England was considered imminent. I do believe that the nation, as a nation, will be as ready to pay for the war as it has been ready to carry on the war. That "ignorant impatience of taxation," to which it is supposed that we Britons are subject, has not been a complaint rife among the Americans generally. We, in England, are inclined to believe that hitherto they have known nothing of the merits and demerits of taxation, and have felt none of its annoyances, because their entire national expenditure has been defrayed by light custom duties; but the levies made in the separate States for State purposes, or chiefly for municipal purposes, have been very heavy. They are, however, collected easily, and, as far as I am aware, without any display of ignorant impatience. Indeed, an American is rarely impatient of any ordained law. Whether he be told to do this, or to pay for that, or to abstain from the other, he does do and pay and abstain without grumbling, provided that he has had a hand in voting for those who made the law and for those who carry out the law. The people generally have, I think, recognized the fact that they will have to put their necks beneath the yoke, as the peoples of other nations have put theirs, and support the weight of a great national debt. When the time comes for the struggle, for the first uphill heaving against the terrible load which they will henceforth have to drag with them in their career, I think it will be found that they are not ill inclined to put their shoulders to the work. Then as to their power of paying the bill! We are told that the wealth of a nation consists in its labor, and that that nation is the most wealthy which can turn out of hand the greatest amount of work. If this be so, the American States must form a very wealthy nation, and as such be able to support a very heavy burden. No one, I presume, doubts that that nation which works the most, or works rather to the best effect, is the richest. On this account England is richer than other countries, and is able to bear, almost without the sign of an effort, a burden which would crush any other land. But of this wealth the States own almost as much as Great Britain owns. The population of the Northern States is industrious, ambitious of wealth, and capable of work as is our population. It possesses, or is possessed by, that restless longing for labor which creates wealth almost unconsciously. Whether this man be rich or be a bankrupt, whether the bankers of that city fail or make their millions, the creative energies of the American people will not become dull. Idleness is impossible to them, and therefore poverty is impossible. Industry and intellect together will always produce wealth; and neither industry nor intellect is ever wanting to an American. They are the two gifts with which the fairy has endowed him. When she shall have added honesty as a third, the tax-gatherer can desire no better country in which to exercise his calling. I cannot myself think that all the millions that are being spent would weigh upon the country with much oppression, if the weight were once properly placed upon the muscles that will have to bear it. The difficulty will be in the placing of the weight. It has, I know, been argued that the circumstances under which our national debt has extended itself to its present magnificent dimensions cannot be quoted as parallel to those of the present American debt, because we, while we were creating the debt, were taxing ourselves very heavily, whereas the Americans have gone ahead with the creation of their debt before they have levied a shilling on themselves toward the payment of those expenses for which the debt has been encountered. But this argument, even if it were true in its gist, goes no way toward proving that the Americans will be unable to pay. The population of the present free-soil States is above eighteen millions; that of the States which will probably belong to the Union if secession be accomplished is about twenty-two millions. At a time when our debt had amounted to six hundred millions sterling we had no population such as that to bear the burden. It may be said that we had more amassed wealth than they have. But I take it that the amassed wealth of any country can go but a very little way in defraying the wants or in paying the debts of a people. We again come back to the old maxim, that the labor of a country is its wealth; and that a country will be rich or poor in accordance with the intellectual industry of its people. But the argument drawn from that comparison between our own conduct when we were creating our debt, and the conduct of the Americans while they have been creating their debt--during the twelve months from April 1, 1861, to March 31, 1862, let us say--is hardly a fair argument. We, at any rate, knew how to tax ourselves--if only the taxes might be forthcoming. We were already well used to the work; and a minister with a willing House of Commons had all his material ready to his hand. It has not been so in the United States. The difficulty has not been with the people who should pay the taxes, but with the minister and the Congress which did not know how to levy them. Certainly not as yet have those who are now criticising the doings on the other side of the water a right to say that the American people are unwilling to make personal sacrifices for the carrying out of this war. No sign has as yet been shown of an unwillingness on the part of the people to be taxed. But wherever a sign could be given, it has been given on the other side. The separate States have taxed themselves very heavily for the support of the families of the absent soldiers. The extra allowances made to maimed men, amounting generally to twenty-four shillings a month, have been paid by the States themselves, and have been paid almost with too much alacrity. I am of opinion that the Americans will show no unwillingness to pay the amount of taxation which must be exacted from them; and I also think that as regards their actual means they will have the power to pay it. But as regards their power of obtaining access to those means, I must confess that I see many difficulties in their way. In the first place they have no financier, no man who by natural aptitude and by long-continued contact with great questions of finance, has enabled himself to handle the money affairs of a nation with a master's hand. In saying this I do not intend to impute any blame to Mr. Chase, the present Secretary of the Treasury. Of his ability to do the work properly had he received the proper training, I am not able to judge. It is not that Mr. Chase is incapable. He may be capable or incapable. But it is that he has not had the education of a national financier, and that he has no one at his elbow to help him who has had that advantage. And here we are again brought to that general absence of statecraft which has been the result of the American system of government. I am not aware that our Chancellors of the Exchequer have in late years always been great masters of finance; but they have at any rate been among money men and money matters, and have had financiers at their elbows if they have not deserved the name themselves. The very fact that a Chancellor of the Exchequer sits in the house of Commons and is forced in that House to answer all questions on the subject of finance, renders it impossible that he should be ignorant of the rudiments of the science. If you put a white cap on a man's head and place him in a kitchen, he will soon learn to be a cook. But he will never be made a cook by standing in the dining-room and seeing the dishes as they are brought up. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is our cook; and the House of Commons, not the Treasury chambers, is his kitchen. Let the Secretary of the United States Treasury sit in the House of Representatives! He would learn more there by contest with opposing members than he can do by any amount of study in his own chamber. But the House of Representatives itself has not as yet learned its own lesson with reference to taxation. When I say that the United States are in want of a financier, I do not mean that the deficiency rests entirely with Mr. Chase. This necessity for taxation, and for taxation at so tremendous a rate, has come suddenly, and has found the representatives of the people unprepared for such work. To us, as I conceive, the science of taxation, in which we certainly ought to be great, has come gradually. We have learned by slow lessons what taxes will be productive, under what circumstances they will be most productive, and at what point they will be made unproductive by their own weight. We have learned what taxes may be levied so as to afford funds themselves, without injuring the proceeds of other taxes, and we know what taxes should be eschewed as being specially oppressive to the general industry and injurious to the well-being of the nation. This has come of much practice, and even we, with all our experience, have even got something to learn. But the public men in the States who are now devoting themselves to this matter of taxing the people have, as yet, no such experience. That they have inclination enough for the work is, I think, sufficiently demonstrated by the national tax bill, the wording of which is now before me, and which will have been passed into law before this volume can be published. It contains a list of every taxable article on the earth or under the earth. A more sweeping catalogue of taxation was probably never put forth. The Americans, it has been said by some of us, have shown no disposition to tax themselves for this war; but before the war has as yet been well twelve months in operation, a bill has come out with a list of taxation so oppressive that it must, as regards many of its items, act against itself and cut its own throat. It will produce terrible fraud in its evasion, and create an army of excise officers who will be as locusts over the face of the country. Taxes are to be laid on articles which I should have said that universal consent had declared to be unfit for taxation. Salt, soap, candles, oil, and other burning fluids, gas, pins, paper, ink, and leather, are to be taxed. It was at first proposed that wheat flour should be taxed, but that item has, I believe, been struck out of the bill in its passage through the House. All articles manufactured of cotton, wool, silk, worsted, flax, hemp, jute, India-rubber, gutta-percha, wood (?), glass, pottery wares, leather, paper, iron, steel, lead, tin, copper, zinc, brass, gold and silver, horn, ivory, bone, bristles, wholly or in part, or of other materials, are to be taxed-- provided always that books, magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, and reviews shall not be regarded as manufactures. It will be said that the amount of taxation to be levied on the immense number of manufactured articles which must be included in this list will be light, the tax itself being only 3 per cent. ad valorem. But with reference to every article, there will be the necessity of collecting this 3 per cent. As regards each article that is manufactured, some government official must interfere to appraise its value and to levy the tax. Who shall declare the value of a barrel of wooden nutmegs; or how shall the excise officer get his tax from every cobbler's stall in the country? And then tradesmen are to pay licenses for their trades--a confectioner 2l., a tallow- chandler 2l., a horse dealer 2l. Every man whose business it is to sell horses shall be a horse dealer. True. But who shall say whether or no it be a man's business to sell horses? An apothecary 2l., a photographer 2l., a peddler 4l., 3l., 2l., or 1l., according to his mode of traveling. But if the gross receipts of any of the confectioners, tallow-chandlers, horse dealers, apothecaries, photographers, peddlers, or the like do not exceed 200l. a year, then such tradesmen shall not be required to pay for any license at all. Surely such a proviso can only have been inserted with the express view of creating fraud and ill blood! But the greatest audacity has, I think, been shown in the levying of personal taxes,-- such taxes as have been held to be peculiarly disagreeable among us, and have specially brought down upon us the contempt of lightly- taxed people, who, like the Americans, have known nothing of domestic interference. Carriages are to be taxed, as they are with us. Pianos also are to be taxed, and plate. It is not signified by this clause that such articles shall pay a tax, once for all, while in the maker's hands, which tax would no doubt fall on the future owner of such piano or plate; in such case the owner would pay, but would pay without any personal contact with the tax-gatherer. But every owner of a piano or of plate is to pay annually according to the value of the articles he owns. But perhaps the most audacious of all the proposed taxes is that on watches. Every owner of a watch is to pay 4s. a year for a gold watch and 2s. a year for a silver watch! The American tax-gatherers will not like to be cheated. They will be very keen in searching for watches. But who can say whether they or the carriers of watches will have the best of it in such a hunt. The tax-gatherers will be as hounds ever at work on a cold scent. They will now be hot and angry, and then dull and disheartened. But the carriers of watches who do not choose to pay will generally, one may predict, be able to make their points good. With such a tax bill--which I believe came into action on the 1st of May, 1862--the Americans are not fairly open to the charge of being unwilling to tax themselves. They have avoided none of the irritating annoyances of taxation, as also they have not avoided, or attempted to lighten for themselves, the dead weight of the burden. The dead weight they are right to endure without flinching; but their mode of laying it on their own backs justifies me, I think, in saying that they do not yet know how to obtain access to their own means. But this bill applies simply to matters of excise. As I have said before, Congress, which has hitherto supported the government by custom duties, has also the power of levying excise duties, and now, in its first session since the commencement of the war, has begun to use that power without much hesitation or bashfulness. As regards their taxes levied at the custom-house, the government of the United States has always been inclined to high duties, with the view of protecting the internal trade and manufactures of the country. The amount required for national expenses was easily obtained; and these duties were not regulated, as I think, so much with a view to the amount which might be collected as to that of the effect which the tax might have in fostering native industry. That, if I understand it, was the meaning of Mr. Morrill's bill, which was passed immediately on the secession of the Southern members of Congress, and which instantly enhanced the price of all foreign manufactured goods in the States. But now the desire for protection, simply as protection, has been swallowed up in the acknowledged necessity for revenue; and the only object to be recognized in the arrangement of the custom duties is the collection of the greatest number of dollars. This is fair enough. If the country can, at such a crisis, raise a better revenue by claiming a shilling a pound on coffee than it can by claiming sixpence, the shilling may be wisely claimed, even though many may thus be prohibited from the use of coffee. But then comes the great question, What duty will really give the greatest product? At what rate shall we tax coffee so as to get at the people's money? If it be so taxed that people won't use it, the tax cuts its own throat. There is some point at which the tax will be most productive; and also there is a point up to which the tax will not operate to the serious injury of the trade. Without the knowledge which should indicate these points, a Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his myrmidons, would be groping in the dark. As far as we can yet see, there is not much of such knowledge either in the Treasury chambers or the House of Representatives at Washington. But the greatest difficulty which the States will feel in obtaining access to their own means of taxation is that which is created by the Constitution itself, and to which I alluded when speaking of the taxing powers which the Constitution had given to Congress and those which it had denied to Congress. As to custom duties and excise duties, Congress can do what it pleases, as can the House of Commons. But Congress cannot levy direct taxation according to its own judgment. In those matters of customs and excise Congress and the Secretary of the Treasury will probably make many blunders; but, having the power, they will blunder through, and the money will be collected. But direct taxation in an available shape is beyond the power of Congress under the existing rule of the Constitution. No income tax, for instance, can be laid on the general incomes of the United States that shall be universal throughout the States. An income tax can be levied, but it must be levied in proportion to the representation. It is as though our Chancellor of the Exchequer, in collecting an income tax, were obliged to demand the same amount of contribution from the town of Chester as from the town of Liverpool, because both Chester and Liverpool return two members to Parliament. In fitting his tax to the capacity of Chester, he would be forced to allow Liverpool to escape unscathed. No skill in money matters on the part of the Treasury Secretary, and no aptness for finance on the part of the Committee of Ways and Means, can avail here. The Constitution must apparently be altered before any serviceable resort can be had to direct taxation. And yet, at such an emergency as that now existing, direct taxation would probably give more ready assistance than can be afforded either by the customs or the excise. It has been stated to me that this difficulty in the way of direct taxation can be overcome without any change in the Constitution. Congress could only levy from Rhode Island the same amount of income tax that it might levy from Iowa; but it will be competent to the legislature of Rhode Island itself to levy what income tax it may please on itself, and to devote the proceeds to National or Federal purposes. Rhode Island may do so, and so may Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and the other rich Atlantic States. They may tax themselves according to their riches, while Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, and such like States are taxing themselves according to their poverty. I cannot myself think that it would be well to trust to the generosity of the separate States for the finances needed by the national government. We should not willingly trust to Yorkshire or Sussex to give us their contributions to the national income, especially if Yorkshire and Sussex had small Houses of Commons of their own in which that question of giving might be debated. It may be very well for Rhode Island or New York to be patriotic! But what shall be done with any State that declines to evince such patriotism? The legislatures of the different States may be invited to impose a tax of five per cent. on all incomes in each State; but what will be done if Pennsylvania, for instance, should decline, or Illinois should hesitate? What if the legislature of Massachusetts should offer six per cent., or that of New Jersey decide that four per cent. was sufficient? For awhile the arrangement might possibly be made to answer the desired purpose. During the first ebullition of high feeling the different States concerned might possibly vote the amount of taxes required for Federal purposes. I fear it would not be so, but we may allow that the chance is on the card. But it is not conceivable that such an arrangement should be continued when, after a year or two, men came to talk over the war with calmer feelings and a more critical judgment. The State legislatures would become inquisitive, opinionative, and probably factious. They would be unwilling to act, in so great a matter, under the dictation of the Federal Congress; and, by degrees, one and then another would decline to give its aid to the central government. However broadly the acknowledgment may have been made that the levying of direct taxes was necessary for the nation, each State would be tempted to argue that a wrong mode and a wrong rate of levying had been adopted, and words would be forthcoming instead of money. A resort to such a mode of taxation would be a bad security for government stock. All matters of taxation, moreover, should be free from any taint of generosity. A man who should attempt to lessen the burdens of his country by gifts of money to its exchequer would be laying his country under an obligation for which his country would not thank him. The gifts here would be from States, and not from individuals but the principle would be the same. I cannot imagine that the United States government would be willing to owe its revenue to the good-will of different States, or its want of revenue to their caprice. If under such an arrangement the Western States were to decline to vote the quota of income tax or property tax to which the Eastern States had agreed--and in all probability they would decline--they would in fact be seceding. They would thus secede from the burdens of their general country; but in such event no one could accuse such States of unconstitutional secession. It is not easy to ascertain with precision what is the present amount of debt due by the United States; nor probably has any tolerably accurate guess been yet given of the amount to which it may be extended during the present war. A statement made in the House of Representatives by Mr. Spaulding, a member of the Committee of Ways and Means, on the 29th of January last, may perhaps be taken as giving as trustworthy information as any that can be obtained. I have changed Mr. Spaulding's figures from dollars into pounds, that they may be more readily understood by English readers:--
There was due up to July 1, 1861 18,173,566 pounds. " added in July and August 5,379,357 " " borrowed in August 10,000,000 " " borrowed in October 10,000,000 " " borrowed in November 10,000,000 " " amount of Treasury Demand Notes issued 7,800,000 " ---------- 61,352,923 "
This was the amount of the debt due up to January 15th, 1862. Mr. Spaulding then calculates that the sum required to carry on the government up to July 1st, 1862, will be 68,647,077l. And that a further sum of 110,000,000l. will be wanted on or before the 1st of July, 1863. Thus the debt at that latter date would stand as follows:--
Amount of debt up to January, 1862 61,352,923 pounds. Added by July 1st, 1862 68,647,077 " Again added by July 1st, 1803 110,000,000 " ----------- 240,000,000 "
The first of these items may no doubt be taken as accurate. The second has probably been founded on facts which leave little doubt as to its substantial truth. The third, which professes to give the proposed expense of the war for the forthcoming year, viz., from July 1st, 1862, to June 30th, 1863, must necessarily have been obtained by a very loose estimate. No one can say what may be the condition of the country during the next year--whether the war may then be raging throughout the Southern States, or whether the war may not have ceased altogether. The North knows little or nothing of the capacity of the South. How little it knows may be surmised from the fact that the whole Southern army of Virginia retreated from their position at Manassas before the Northern generals knew that they were moving; and that when they were gone no word whatever was left of their numbers. I do not believe that the Northern government is even yet able to make any probable conjecture as to the number of troops which the Southern Confederacy is maintaining; and if this be so, they can certainly make no trustworthy estimates as to their own expenses for the ensuing year. Two hundred and forty millions is, however, the sum named by a gentleman presumed to be conversant with the matter, as the amount of debt which may be expected by midsummer, 1863; and if the war be continued till then, it will probably be found that he has not exceeded the mark. It is right, however, to state that Mr. Chase in his estimate does not rate the figures so high. He has given it as his opinion that the debt will be about one hundred and four millions in July, 1862, and one hundred and eighty millions in July, 1863. As to the first amount, with reference to which a tolerably accurate calculation may probably be made, I am inclined to prefer the estimate as given by the member of the committee; and as to the other, which hardly, as I think, admits of any calculation, his calculation is at any rate as good as that made in the Treasury. But it is the immediate want of funds, and not the prospective debt of the country, which is now doing the damage. In this opinion Mr. Chase will probably agree with me; but readers on this side of the water will receive what I say with a smile. Such a state of affairs is certainly one that has not uncommonly been reached by financiers; it has also often been experienced by gentlemen in the management of their private affairs. It has been common in Ireland, and in London has created the wealth of the pawnbrokers. In the States at the present time the government is very much in this condition. The prospective wealth of the country is almost unbounded, but there is great difficulty in persuading any pawnbroker to advance money on the pledge. In February last Mr. Chase was driven to obtain the sanction of the legislature for paying the national creditors by bills drawn at twelve months' date, and bearing 6 per cent. interest. It is the old story of the tailor who calls with his little account, and draws on his insolvent debtor at ninety days. If the insolvent debtor be not utterly gone as regards solvency he will take up the bill when due, even though he may not be able to pay a simple debt. But, then, if he be utterly insolvent, he can do neither the one nor the other! The Secretary of the Treasury, when he asked for permission to accept these bills--or to issue these certificates, as he calls them--acknowledged to pressing debts of over five millions sterling which he could not pay; and to further debts of eight millions which he could not pay, but which he termed floating; debts, if I understand him, which were not as yet quite pressing. Now I imagine that to be a lamentable condition for any Chancellor of an Exchequer--especially as a confession is at the same time made that no advantageous borrowing is to be done under the existing circumstances. When a Chancellor of the Exchequer confesses that he cannot borrow on advantageous terms, the terms within his reach must be very bad indeed. This position is indeed a sad one, and at any rate justifies me in stating that the immediate want of funds is severely felt. But the very arguments which have been used to prove that the country will be ultimately crushed by the debt, are those which I should use to prove that it will not be crushed. A comparison has more than once been made between the manner in which our debt was made and that in which the debt of the United States is now being created; and the great point raised in our favor is, that while we were borrowing money we were also taxing ourselves, and that we raised as much by taxes as we did by loans. But it is too early in the day to deny to the Americans the credit which we thus take to ourselves. We were a tax-paying nation when we commenced those wars which made our great loans necessary, and only went on in that practice which was habitual to us. I do not think that the Americans could have taxed themselves with greater alacrity than they have shown. Let us wait, at any rate, till they shall have had time for the operation, before we blame them for not making it. It is then argued that we in England did not borrow nearly so fast as they have borrowed in the States. That is true. But it must be remembered that the dimensions and proportions of wars now are infinitely greater than they were when we began to borrow. Does any one imagine that we would not have borrowed faster, if by faster borrowing we could have closed the war more speedily? Things go faster now than they did then. Borrowing for the sake of a war may be a bad thing to do, as also it may be a good thing; but if it be done at all, it should be so done as to bring the war to the end with what greatest dispatch may be possible. The only fair comparison, as it seems to me, which can be drawn between the two countries with reference to their debts, and the condition of each under its debt, should be made to depend on the amount of the debt and probable ability of the country to bear that burden. The amount of the debt must be calculated by the interest payable on it rather than by the figures representing the actual sum due. If we debit the United States government with seven per cent. on all the money borrowed by them, and presume that amount to have reached in July, 1863, the sum named by Mr. Spaulding, they will then have loaded themselves with an annual charge of 16,800,000 pounds sterling. It will have been an immense achievement to have accomplished in so short a time, but it will by no means equal the annual sum with which we are charged. And, moreover, the comparison will have been made in a manner that is hardly fair to the Americans. We pay our creditors three per cent. now that we have arranged our affairs, and have settled down into the respectable position of an old gentleman whose estates, though deeply mortgaged, are not over mortgaged. But we did not get our money at three per cent. while our wars were on hand and there yet existed some doubt as to the manner in which they might be terminated. This attempt, however, at guessing what may be the probable amount of the debt at the close of the war is absolutely futile. No one can as yet conjecture when the war may be over, or what collateral expenses may attend its close. It may be the case that the government, in fixing some boundary between the future United States and the future Southern Confederacy, will be called on to advance a very large sum of money as compensation for slaves who shall have been liberated in the border States, or have been swept down South into the cotton regions with the retreating hordes of the Southern army. The total of the bill cannot be reckoned up while the work is still unfinished. But, after all, that question as to the amount of the bill is not to us the question of the greatest interest. Whether the debt shall amount to two, or three, or even to four hundred millions sterling; whether it remain fixed at its present modest dimensions, or swell itself out to the magnificent proportions of our British debt; will the resources of the country enable it to bear such a burden? Will it be found that the Americans share with us that elastic power of endurance which has enabled us to bear a weight that would have ruined any other people of the same number? Have they the thews and muscles, the energy and endurance, the power of carrying which we possess? They have got our blood in their veins, and have these qualities gone with the blood? It is of little avail either to us or to the truth that we can show some difference between our position and their position which may seem to be in our favor. They doubtless could show other points of difference on the other side. With us, in the early years of this century, it was a contest for life and death, in which we could not stop to count the cost--in which we believed that we were fighting for all that we cared to call our own, and in which we were resolved that we would not be beaten as long as we had a man to fight and a guinea to spend. Fighting in this mind we won. Had we fought in any other mind I think I may say that we should not have won. To the Americans of the Northern States this also is a contest for life and death. I will not here stay to argue whether this need have been so. I think they are right; but this at least must be accorded to them--that, having gone into this matter of civil war, it behoves them to finish it with credit to themselves. There are many Englishmen who think that we were wrong to undertake the French war; but there is, I take it, no Englishman who thinks that we ought to have allowed ourselves to be beaten when we had undertaken it. To the Americans it is now a contest of life and death. They also cannot stop to count the cost, They also will go on as long as they have a dollar to spend or a man to fight. It appears that we were paying fourteen millions a year interest on our national debt in the year 1796. I take this statement from an article in The Times, in which the question of the finances of the United States is handled. But our population in 1796 was only sixteen millions. I estimate the population of the Northern section of the United States, as the States will be after the war, at twenty-two millions. In the article alluded to, these Northern Americans are now stated to be twenty millions. If then we, in 1796, could pay fourteen millions a year with a population of sixteen millions, the United States, with a population of twenty or twenty-two millions, will be able to pay the sixteen or seventeen millions sterling of interest which will become due from them, if their circumstances of payment are as good as were ours. They can do that, and more than that, if they have the same means per man as we had. And as the means per man resolves itself at last into the labor per man, it may be said that they can pay what we could pay, if they can and will work as hard as we could and did work. That which did not crush us will not crush them, if their future energy be equal to our past energy. And on this question of energy I think that there is no need for doubt. Taking man for man and million for million, the Americans are equal to the English in intellect and industry. They create wealth, at any rate, as fast as we have done. They develop their resources, and open out the currents of trade, with an energy equal to our own. They are always at work--improving, utilizing, and creating. Austria, as I take it, is succumbing to monetary difficulties, not because she has been extravagant, but because she has been slow at progress; because it has been the work of her rulers to repress rather than encourage the energies of her people; because she does not improve, utilize, and create. England has mastered her monetary difficulties because the genius of her government and her people has been exactly opposite to the genius of Austria. And the States of America will master their money difficulties, because they are born of England, and are not born of Austria. What! Shall our eldest child become bankrupt in its first trade difficulty; be utterly ruined by its first little commercial embarrassment! The child bears much too strong a resemblance to its parent for me to think so.
Any Englishman or Frenchman residing in the American States cannot fail to be struck with the inferiority of the post-office arrangements in that country to those by which they are accommodated in their own country. I have not been a resident in the country, and as a traveler might probably have passed the subject without special remark, were it not that the service of the post-office has been my own profession for many years. I could therefore hardly fail to observe things which to another man would have been of no material moment. At first I was inclined to lean heavily in my judgment upon the deficiencies of a department which must be of primary importance to a commercial nation. It seemed that among a people so intelligent, and so quick in all enterprises of trade, a well-arranged post-office would have been held to be absolutely necessary, and that all difficulties would have been made to succumb in their efforts to put that establishment, if no other, upon a proper footing. But as I looked into the matter, and in becoming acquainted with the circumstances of the post-office learned the extent of the difficulties absolutely existing, I began to think that a very great deal had been done, and that the fault, as to that which had been left undone, rested not with the post-office officials, but was attributable partly to political causes altogether outside the post-office, and partly--perhaps chiefly--to the nature of the country itself. It is I think undoubtedly true that the amount of accommodation given by the post-office of the States is small, as compared with that afforded in some other countries, and that that accommodation is lessened by delays and uncertainty. The point which first struck me was the inconvenient hours at which mails were brought in and dispatched. Here in England it is the object of our post-office to carry the bulk of our letters at night; to deliver them as early as possible in the morning, and to collect them and take them away for dispatch as late as may be in the day; so that the merchant may receive his letters before the beginning of his day business, and dispatch them after its close. The bulk of our letters is handled in this manner, and the advantage of such an arrangement is manifest. But it seemed that in the States no such practice prevailed. Letters arrived at any hour in the day miscellaneously, and were dispatched at any hour, and I found that the postmaster at one town could never tell me with certainty when letters would arrive at another. If the towns were distant, I would be told that the conveyance might take about two or three days; if they were near, that my letter would get to hand "some time to-morrow." I ascertained, moreover, by painful experience that the whole of a mail would not always go forward by the first dispatch. As regarded myself this had reference chiefly to English letters and newspapers. "Only a part of the mail has come," the clerk would tell me. With us the owners of that part which did not "come," would consider themselves greatly aggrieved and make loud complaint. But in the States complaints made against official departments are held to be of little moment. Letters also in the States are subject to great delays by irregularities on railways. One train does not hit the town of its destination before another train, to which it is nominally fitted, has been started on its journey. The mail trains are not bound to wait; and thus, in the large cities, far distant from New York, great irregularity prevails. It is I think owing to this--at any rate partly to this--that the system of telegraphing has become so prevalent. It is natural that this should be so between towns which are in the due course of post perhaps forty-eight hours asunder; but the uncertainty of the post increases the habit, to the profit of course of the companies which own the wires, but to the manifest loss of the post-office. But the deficiency which struck me most forcibly in the American post-office, was the absence of any recognized official delivery of letters. The United States post-office does not assume to itself the duty of taking letters to the houses of those for whom they are intended, but holds itself as having completed the work for which the original postage has been paid, when it has brought them to the window of the post-office of the town to which they are addressed. It is true that in most large towns--though by no means in all--a separate arrangement is made by which a delivery is afforded to those who are willing to pay a further sum for that further service; but the recognized official mode of delivery is from the office window. The merchants and persons in trade have boxes at the windows, for which they pay. Other old-established inhabitants in town, and persons in receipt of a considerable correspondence, receive their letters by the subsidiary carriers and pay for them separately. But the poorer classes of the community, those persons among which it is of such paramount importance to increase the blessing of letter writing, obtain their letters from the post- office windows. In each of these cases the practice acts to the prejudice of the department. In order to escape the tax on delivery, which varies from two cents to one cent a letter, all men in trade, and many who are not in trade, hold office boxes; consequently immense space is required. The space given at Chicago, both to the public without and to the official within, for such delivery, is more than four times that required at Liverpool for the same purpose. But Liverpool is three times the size of Chicago. The corps of clerks required for the window delivery is very great, and the whole affair is cumbrous in the extreme. The letters at most offices are given out through little windows, to which the inquirer is obliged to stoop. There he finds himself opposite to a pane of glass with a little hole, and when the clerk within shakes his head at him, he rarely believes but what his letters are there if he could only reach them. But in the second case, the tax on the delivery, which is intended simply to pay the wages of the men who take them out, is paid with a bad grace; it robs the letter of its charm, and forces it to present itself in the guise of a burden: it makes that disagreeable which for its own sake the post-office should strive in every way to make agreeable. This practice, moreover, operates as a direct prevention to a class of correspondence which furnishes in England a large proportion of the revenue of the post-office. Mercantile houses in our large cities send out thousands of trade circulars, paying postage on them; but such circulars would not be received, either in England or elsewhere, if a demand for postage were made on their delivery. Who does not receive these circulars in our country by the dozen, consigning them generally to the waste- paper basket, after a most cursory inspection? As regards the sender, the transaction seems to us often to be very vain; but the post-office gets its penny. So also would the American post-office get its three cents. But the main objection in my eyes to the American post-office system is this, that it is not brought nearer to the poorer classes. Everybody writes or can write in America, and therefore the correspondence of their millions should be, million for million, at any rate equal to ours. But it is not so; and this I think comes from the fact that communication by post-office is not made easy to the people generally. Such communication is not found to be easy by a man who has to attend at a post-office window on the chance of receiving a letter. When no arrangement more comfortable than that is provided, the post-office will be used for the necessities of letter writing, but will not be esteemed as a luxury. And thus not only do the people lose a comfort which they might enjoy, but the post-office also loses that revenue which it might make. I have said that the correspondence circulating in the United States is less than that of the United Kingdom. In making any comparison between them, I am obliged to arrive at facts, or rather at the probabilities of facts, in a somewhat circuitous mode, as the Americans have kept no account of the number of letters which pass through their post-offices in a year; we can, however, make an estimate, which, if incorrect, shall not at any rate be incorrect against them. The gross postal revenue of the United States for the year ended June 30th, 1861, was in round figures 1,700,000l. This was the amount actually cashed, exclusive of a sum of 140,000l. paid to the post-office by the government for the carriage of what is called in that country free mail matter; otherwise, books, letters, and parcels franked by members of Congress. The gross postal revenue of the United Kingdom was in the last year, in round figures, 3,358,000l., exclusive of a sum of 179,000l. claimed as earned for carrying official postage, and also exclusive of 127,866l., that being the amount of money order commissions, which in this country is considered a part of the post-office revenue. In the United States there is at present no money order office. In the United Kingdom the sum of 3,358,000l. was earned by the conveyance and delivery of 593,000,000 of letters, 73,000,000 of newspapers, 12,000,000 of books. What number of each was conveyed through the post in the United States we have no means of knowing; but presuming the average rate of postage on each letter in the States to be the same as it is in England, and presuming also that letters, newspapers, and books circulated in the same proportion there as they do with us, the sum above named of 1,700,000l. will have been earned by carrying about 300,000,000 of letters. But the average rate of postage in the States is in fact higher than it is in England. The ordinary single rate of postage there is three cents, or three half-pence, whereas with us it is a penny; and if three half-pence might be taken as the average rate in the United States, the number of letters would be reduced from 300,000,000 to 200,000,000 a year. There is, however, a class of letters which in the States are passed through the post-office at the rate of one half-penny a letter, whereas there is no rate of postage with us less than a penny. Taking these half-penny letters into consideration, I am disposed to regard the average rate of American postage at about five farthings, which would give the number of letters at 250,000,000. We shall at any rate be safe in saying that the number is considerably less than 300,000,000, and that it does not amount to half the number circulated with us. But the difference between our population and their population is not great. The population of the States during the year in question was about 27,000,000, exclusive of slaves, and that of the British Isles was about 29,000,000. No doubt in the year named the correspondence of the States had been somewhat disturbed by the rebellion; but that disturbance, up to the end of June, 1861, had been very trifling. The division of the Southern from the Northern States, as far as the post-office was concerned, did not take place till the end of May, l861; and therefore but one month in the year was affected by the actual secession of the South. The gross postal revenue of the States which have seceded was, for the year prior to secession, 1,200,500 dollars, and for that one month of June it would therefore have been a little over 100,000 dollars, or 20,000l. That sum may therefore be presumed to have been abstracted by secession from the gross annual revenue of the post-office. Trade, also, was no doubt injured by the disturbance in the country, and the circulation of letters was, as a matter of course, to some degree affected by this injury; but it seems that the gross revenue of 1861 was less than that of 1860 by only one thirty-sixth. I think, therefore, that we may say, making all allowance that can be fairly made, that the number of letters circulating in the United Kingdom is more than double that which circulates, or ever has circulated, in the United States. That this is so, I attribute not to any difference in the people of the two countries, not to an aptitude for letter writing among us which is wanting with the Americans, but to the greater convenience and wider accommodation of our own post-office. As I have before stated, and will presently endeavor to show, this wider accommodation is not altogether the result of better management on our part. Our circumstances as regards the post-office have had in them less of difficulties than theirs. But it has arisen in great part from better management; and in nothing is their deficiency so conspicuous as in the absence of a free delivery for their letters. In order that the advantages of the post-office should reach all persons, the delivery of letters should extend not only to towns, but to the country also. In France all letters are delivered free. However remote may be the position of a house or cottage, it is not too remote for the postman. With us all letters are not delivered, but the exceptions refer to distant solitary houses and to localities which are almost without correspondence. But in the United States there is no free delivery, and there is no delivery at all except in the large cities. In small towns, in villages, even in the suburbs of the largest cities, no such accommodation is given. Whatever may be the distance, people expecting letters must send for them to the post-office; and they who do not expect them, leave their letters uncalled for. Brother Jonathan goes out to fish in these especial waters with a very large net. The little fish which are profitable slip through; but the big fish, which are by no means profitable, are caught--often at an expense greater than their value. There are other smaller sins upon which I could put my finger--and would do so were I writing an official report upon the subject of the American post-office. In lieu of doing so, I will endeavor to explain how much the States office has done in this matter of affording post-office accommodation, and how great have been the difficulties in the way of post-office reformers in that country. In the first place, when we compare ourselves to them we must remember that we live in a tea-cup, and they in a washing-tub. As compared with them we inhabit towns which are close to each other. Our distances, as compared with theirs, are nothing. From London to Liverpool the line of railway I believe traverses about two hundred miles, but the mail train which conveys the bags for Liverpool carries the correspondence of probably four or five millions of persons. The mail train from New York to Buffalo passes over about four hundred miles, and on its route leaves not one million. A comparison of this kind might be made with the same effect between any of our great internal mail routes and any of theirs. Consequently the expense of conveyance to them is, per letter, very much greater than with us, and the American post-office is, as a matter of necessity, driven to an economy in the use of railways for the post-office service which we are not called on to practice. From New York to Chicago is nearly 1000 miles. From New York to St. Louis is over 1400. From New York to New Orleans is 1600 miles. I need not say that in England we know nothing of such distances, and that therefore our task has been comparatively easy. Nevertheless the States have followed in our track, and have taken advantage of Sir Rowland's Hill's wise audacity in the reduction of postage with greater quickness than any other nation but our own. Through all the States letters pass for three cents over a distance less than 3000 miles. For distances above 3000 miles the rate is ten cents, or five pence. This increased rate has special reference to the mails for California, which are carried daily across the whole continent at a cost to the States government of two hundred thousand pounds a year. With us the chief mail trains are legally under the management of the Postmaster-General. He fixes the hours at which they shall start and arrive, being of course bound by certain stipulations as to pace. He can demand trains to run over any line at any hour, and can in this way secure the punctuality of mail transportation. Of course such interference on the part of a government official in the working of a railway is attended with a very heavy expense to the government. Though the British post-office can demand the use of trains at any hour, and as regards those trains can make the dispatch of mails paramount to all other matters, the British post- office cannot fix the price to be paid for such work. This is generally done by arbitration, and of course for such services the payment is very high. No such practice prevails in the States. The government has no power of using the mail lines as they are used by our post-office, nor could the expense of such a practice be borne or nearly borne by the proceeds of letters in the States. Consequently the post-office is put on a par with ordinary customers, and such trains are used for mail matter as the directors of each line may see fit to use for other matter. Hence it occurs that no offense against the post-office is committed when the connection between different mail trains is broken. The post-office takes the best it can get, paying as other customers pay, and grumbling as other customers grumble when the service rendered falls short of that which has been promised. It may, I think, easily be seen that any system, such as ours, carried across so large a country, would go on increasing in cost at an enormous ratio. The greater is the distance, the greater is the difficulty in securing the proper fitting of fast-running trains. And moreover, it must be remembered that the American lines have been got up on a very different footing from ours, at an expense per mile of probably less than a fifth of that laid out on our railways. Single lines of rail are common, even between great towns with large traffic. At the present moment, February, 1862, the only railway running into Washington, that namely from Baltimore, is a single line over the greater distance. The whole thing is necessarily worked at a cheaper rate than with us; not because the people are poorer, but because the distances are greater. As this is the case throughout the whole railway system of the country, it cannot be expected that such dispatch and punctuality should be achieved in America as are achieved here in England, or in France. As population and wealth increase it will come. In the mean time that which has been already done over the extent of the vast North American continent is very wonderful. I think, therefore, that complaint should not be made against the Washington post-office, either on account of the inconvenience of the hours or on the head of occasional irregularity. So much has been done in reducing the rate to three cents, and in giving a daily mail throughout the States, that the department should be praised for energy, and not blamed for apathy. In the year ended June 30, 1861, the gross revenue of the post- office of the States was, as I have stated, 1,700,000l. In the same year its expenditure was in round figures 2,720,000l.; consequently there was an actual loss, to be made up out of general taxation, amounting to 1,020,000l. In the accounts of the American officers this is lessened by 140,000l. That sum having been arbitrarily fixed by the government as the amount earned by the post-office in carrying free mail matter. We have a similar system in computing the value of the service rendered by our post-office to the government in carrying government dispatches; but with us the amount named as the compensation depends on the actual weight carried. If the matter so carried be carried solely on the government service, as is, I believe, the case with us, any such claim on behalf of the post-office is apparently unnecessary. The Crown works for the Crown, as the right hand works for the left. The post-office pays no rates or taxes, contributes nothing to the poor, runs its mails on turnpike roads free of toll, and gives receipts on unstamped paper. With us no payment is in truth made, though the post-office in its accounts presumes itself to have received the money; but in the States the sum named is handed over by the State Treasury to the Post-office Treasury. Any such statement of credit does not in effect alter the real fact that over a million sterling is required as a subsidy by the American post-office, in order that it may be enabled to pay its way. In estimating the expenditure of the office the department at Washington debits itself with the sums paid for the ocean transit of its mails, amounting to something over one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. We also now do the same, with the much greater sum paid by us for such service, which now amounts to 949,228l., or nearly a million sterling. Till lately this was not paid out of the post-office moneys, and the post-office revenue was not debited with the amount. Our gross post-office revenue is, as I have said, 3,358,250l. As before explained, this is exclusive of the amount earned by the money order department, which, though managed by the authorities of the post-office, cannot be called a part of the post-office; and exclusive also of the official postage, which is, in fact, never received. The expenditure of our British post-office, inclusive of the sum paid for the ocean mail service, is 3,064,527l.; we therefore make a net profit of 293,723l. out of the post-office, as compared with a loss of 1,020,000l. on the part of the United States. But perhaps the greatest difficulty with which the American post- office is burdened is that "free mail matter" to which I have alluded, for carrying which the post-office claims to earn 140,000l., and for the carriage of which it might as fairly claim to earn 1,350,000l., or half the amount of its total expenditure, for I was informed by a gentleman whose knowledge on the subject could not be doubted, that the free mail matter so carried equaled in bulk and weight all that other matter which was not carried free. To such an extent has the privilege of franking been carried in the States! All members of both Houses frank what they please--for in effect the privilege is stretched to that extent. All Presidents of the Union, past and present, can frank, as also, all Vice-Presidents, past and present; and there is a special act, enabling the widow of President Polk to frank. Why it is that widows of other Presidents do not agitate on the matter, I cannot understand. And all the Secretaries of State can frank; and ever so many other public officers. There is no limit in number to the letters so franked, and the nuisance has extended itself to so huge a size that members of Congress, in giving franks, cannot write the franks themselves. It is illegal for them to depute to others the privilege of signing their names for this purpose, but it is known at the post-office that it is done. But even this is not the worst of it. Members of the House of Representatives have the power of sending through the post all those huge books which, with them as with us, grow out of parliamentary debates and workings of committees. This, under certain stipulations, is the case also in England; but in England, luckily, no one values them. In America, however, it is not so. A voter considers himself to be noticed if he gets a book; he likes to have the book bound, and the bigger the book may be, the more the compliment is relished. Hence it comes to pass that an enormous quantity of useless matter is printed and bound, only that it may be sent down to constituents and make a show on the parlor shelves of constituents' wives. The post-office groans and becomes insolvent and the country pays for the paper, the printing, and the binding. While the public expenses of this nation were very small, there was, perhaps, no reason why voters should not thus be indulged; but now the matter is different, and it would be well that the conveyance by post of these congressional libraries should be brought to an end. I was also assured that members very frequently obtain permission for the printing of a speech which has never been delivered--and which never will be delivered--in order that copies may be circulated among their constituents. There is in such an arrangement an ingenuity which is peculiarly American in its nature. Everybody concerned is no doubt cheated by the system. The constituents are cheated; the public, which pays, is cheated; and the post-office is cheated. But the House is spared the hearing of the speech, and the result on the whole is perhaps beneficial. We also, within the memory of many of us, had a franking privilege, which was peculiarly objectionable, inasmuch as it operated toward giving a free transmission of their letters by post to the rich, while no such privilege was within reach of the poor. But with us it never stretched itself to such an extent as it has now achieved in the States. The number of letters for members was limited. The whole address was written by the franking member himself, and not much was sent in this way that was bulky. I am disposed to think that all government and congressional jobs in the States bear the same proportion to government and parliamentary jobs which have been in vogue among us. There has been an unblushing audacity in the public dishonesty--what I may perhaps call the State dishonesty--at Washington, which I think was hardly ever equaled in London. Bribery, I know, was disgracefully current in the days of Walpole, of Newcastle, and even of Castlereagh; so current, that no Englishman has a right to hold up his own past government as a model of purity; but the corruption with us did blush and endeavor to hide itself. It was disgraceful to be bribed, if not so to offer bribes. But at Washington corruption has been so common that I can hardly understand how any honest man can have held up his head in the vicinity of the Capitol or of the State office. But the country has, I think, become tired of this. Hitherto it has been too busy about its more important concerns, in extending commerce, in making railways, in providing education for its youth, to think very much of what was being done at Washington. While the taxes were light, and property was secure, while increasing population gave daily increasing strength to the nation, the people as a body were content with that theory of being governed by their little men. They gave a bad name to politicians, and allowed politics, as they say, to "slide." But all this will be altered now. The tremendous expenditure of the last twelve months has allowed dishonesty of so vast a grasp to make its ravages in the public pockets that the evil will work its own cure. Taxes will be very high, and the people will recognize the necessity of having honest men to look after them. The nation can no longer afford to be indifferent about its government, and will require to know where its money goes, and why it goes. This franking privilege is already doomed, if not already dead. When I was in Washington, a bill was passed through the Lower House by which it would be abolished altogether. When I left America, its fate in the Senate was still doubtful, and I was told by many that that bill would not be allowed to become law without sundry alterations. But, nevertheless, I regard the franking privilege as doomed, and offer to the Washington post-office officials my best congratulations on their coming deliverance. The post-office in the States is also burdened by another terrible political evil, which in itself is so heavy that one would at first sight declare it to be enough to prevent anything like efficiency. The whole of its staff is removable every fourth year--that is to say, on the election of every new President; and a very large proportion of its staff is thus removed periodically to make way for those for whom a new President is bound to provide, by reason of their services in sending him to the White House. They have served him, and he thus repays them by this use of his patronage in their favor. At four hundred and thirty-four post-offices in the States-- those being the offices to which the highest salaries are attached-- the President has this power, and exercises it as a matter of course. He has the same power with reference, I believe, to all the appointments held in the post-office at Washington. This practice applies by no means to the post-office only. All the government clerks--clerks employed by the central government at Washington--are subject to the same rule. And the rule has also been adopted in the various States with reference to State offices. To a stranger this practice seems so manifestly absurd that he can hardly conceive it possible that a government service should be conducted on such terms. He cannot, in the first place, believe that men of sufficient standing before the world could be found to accept office under such circumstances; and is led to surmise that men of insufficient standing must be employed, and that there are other allurements to the office beyond the very moderate salaries which are allowed. He cannot, moreover, understand how the duties can be conducted, seeing that men must be called on to resign their places as soon as they have learned to make themselves useful. And, finally, he is lost in amazement as he contemplates this barefaced prostitution of the public employ to the vilest purposes of political manoeuvring. With us also patronage has been used for political purposes, and to some small extent is still so used. We have not yet sufficiently recognized the fact that in selecting a public servant nothing should be regarded but the advantage of the service for which he is to be employed. But we never, in the lowest times of our political corruption, ventured to throw over the question of service altogether, and to declare publicly that the one and only result to be obtained by government employment was political support. In the States, political corruption has become so much a matter of course that no American seems to be struck with the fact that the whole system is a system of robbery. From sheer necessity some of the old hands are kept on when these changes are made. Were this not done, the work would come absolutely to a dead lock. But as it is, it may be imagined how difficult it must be for men to carry through any improvements in a great department, when they have entered an office under such a system, and are liable to be expelled under the same. It is greatly to the praise of those who have been allowed to grow old in the service that so much has been done. No men, however, are more apt at such work than Americans, or more able to exert themselves at their posts. They are not idle. Independently of any question of remuneration, they are not indifferent to the well-being of the work they have in hand. They are good public servants, unless corruption come in their way. While speaking on the subject of patronage, I cannot but allude to two appointments which had been made by political interest, and with the circumstances of which I became acquainted. In both instances a good place had been given to a gentleman by the incoming President-- not in return for political support, but from motives of private friendship--either his own friendship or that of some mutual friend. In both instances I heard the selection spoken of with the warmest praise, as though a noble act had been done in the selection of a private friend instead of a political partisan. And yet in each case a man was appointed who knew nothing of his work; who, from age and circumstances, was not likely to become acquainted with his work; who, by his appointment, kept out of the place those who did understand the work, and had earned a right to promotion by so understanding it. Two worthy gentlemen--for they were both worthy-- were pensioned on the government for a term of years under a false pretense. That this should have been done is not perhaps remarkable; but it did seem remarkable to me that everybody regarded such appointments as a good deed--as a deed so exceptionably good as to be worthy of great praise. I do not allude to these selections on account of the political view shown by the Presidents in making them, but on account of the political virtue; in order that the nature of political virtue in the States may be understood. It had never occurred to any one to whom I spoke on the subject, that a President in the bestowing of such places was bound to look for efficient work in return for the public money which was to be paid. Before I end this chapter I must insert a few details respecting the post-office of the States, which, though they may not be specially interesting to the general reader, will give some idea of the extent of the department. The total number of post-offices in the States on June 30th, 1861, was 28,586. With us the number in England, Scotland, and Ireland, at the same period, was about 11,400. The population served may be regarded as nearly the same. Our lowest salary is 3l. per annum. In the States the remuneration is often much lower. It consist in a commission on the letters, and is sometimes less than ten shillings. The difficulty of obtaining persons to hold these offices, and the amount of work which must thereby be thrown on what is called the "appointment branch," may be judged by the fact that 9235 of these offices were filled up by new nominations during the last year. When the patronage is of such a nature it is difficult to say which give most trouble, the places which nobody wishes to have, or those which everybody wishes to have. The total amount of postage on European letters, i.e. letters passing between the States and Europe, in the last year, as to which accounts were kept between Washington and the European post-offices, was 275,000l. Of this over 150,000l. was on letters for the United Kingdom; and 130,000l. was on letters carried by the Cunard packets. According to the accounts kept by the Washington office, the letters passing from the States to Europe and from Europe to the States are very nearly equal in number, about 101 going to Europe for every 100 received from Europe. But the number of newspapers sent from the States is more than double the number received in the States from Europe. On June 30th, 1861, mails were carried through the then loyal States of the Union over 140,400 miles daily. Up to 31st May preceding, at which time the government mails were running all through the united States, 96,000 miles were covered in those States which had then virtually seceded, and which in the following month were taken out from the post-office accounts--making a total of 236,400 miles daily. Of this mileage something less than one-third is effected by railways, at an average cost of about six pence a mile. Our total mileage per day is 151,000 miles, of which 43,823 are done by railway, at a cost of about seven pence half-penny per mile. As far as I could learn, the servants of the post-office are less liberally paid in the States than with us, excepting as regards two classes. The first of these is that class which is paid by weekly wages, such as letter-carriers and porters. Their remuneration is of course ruled by the rate of ordinary wages in the country; and as ordinary wages are higher in the States than with us, such men are paid accordingly. The other class is that of postmasters at second- rate towns. They receive the same compensation as those at the largest towns--unless indeed there be other compensations than those written in the books at Washington. A postmaster is paid a certain commission on letters, till it amounts to 400l. per annum: all above that going back to the government. So also out of the fees paid for boxes at the window he receives any amount forthcoming not exceeding 400l. a year; making in all a maximum of 800l. The postmaster of New York can get no more; but any moderately large town will give as much, and in this way an amount of patronage is provided which in a political view is really valuable. But with all this the people have made their way, because they have been intelligent, industrious, and in earnest. And as the people have made their way, so has the post-office. The number of its offices, the mileage it covers, its extraordinary cheapness, the rapidity with which it has been developed, are all proofs of great things done; and it is by no means standing still even in these evil days of war. Improvements are even now on foot, copied in a great measure from ourselves. Hitherto the American office has not taken upon itself the task of returning to their writers undelivered and undeliverable letters. This it is now going to do. It is, as I have said, shaking off from itself that terrible incubus, the franking privilege. And the expediency of introducing a money-order office into the States, connected with the post-office as it is with us, is even now under consideration. Such an accommodation is much needed in the country; but I doubt whether the present moment, looking at the fiscal state of the country, is well adapted for establishing it. I was much struck by the great extravagance in small things manifested by the post-office through the States, and have reason to believe that the same remark would be equally true with regard to other public establishments. They use needless forms without end-- making millions of entries which no one is ever expected to regard. Their expenditure in stationery might I think be reduced by one- half, and the labor might be saved which is now wasted in the abuse of that useless stationery. Their mail bags are made in a costly manner, and are often large beyond all proportion or necessity. I could greatly lengthen this list if I were addressing myself solely to post-office people; but as I am not doing so, I will close these semi-official remarks with an assurance to my colleagues in post- office work on the other side of the water that I greatly respect what they have done, and trust that before long they may have renewed opportunities for the prosecution of their good work.