Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/343

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SALE OF UNSTAMPED NEWSPAPERS.

Minto (First Lord of the Admiralty), had instructed British cruisers to stop all Sardinian vessels carrying warlike stores for Don Carlos. Lord John, while clinging to the mast behind, and viewing with terror the impending fate of his colleague, evidently solaces himself with the conviction that his own weight is too insignificant to have any material effect upon the safety of the ship. Minto owed his safety to the Duke of Wellington, who therefore figures in the sketch as the whale; for, although convinced that his lordship had been imprudent, he successfully resisted Brougham's motion for a copy of the instructions, and thereby succeeded in lodging poor Jonah on dry land.

Stamp Duty on Newspapers.One of the "sketches" in which Lord John Russell figures reminds us of a remarkable discussion which possesses considerable interest for every reader of the cheap newspapers of to-day. The Chancellor of the Exchequer (the Right Hon. Thomas Spring Rice) in opening his budget on the 6th of May, 1836, showed a disposable surplus of £662,000 only, which he proposed (in the usual way) to apply towards the reduction of taxation. He proposed, in the first place, to consolidate the paper duties and to reduce their amount in a manner which he proceeded to explain; and after accounting for £200,000, the balance of the surplus he intended to apply to the reduction of the stamp on newspapers. The duty minus the discount was fourpence, which he proposed to reduce to a penny, and to give of course no discount. The reader must not suppose from the foregoing, however, that all the proprietors of newspapers of that day paid the duty; on the contrary, the large majority evaded it in every possible way. The measure in fact was intended as much as a protection to the revenue as anything else, for the sale of unstamped newspapers throughout the country had become so extensive that no series of prosecutions was found effectual to put them down. Every sheet, it is true, professed to bear on it the printer's name; but the name so appended was in six cases out of eight a false one. Exchequer processes were issued; all the power of the law was set in motion; in the course of three weeks three hundred persons had been imprisoned for selling unstamped