Page:History of England (Macaulay) Vol 4.djvu/220

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Commons listened with signs of satisfaction to a speech in which the King congratulated them on the event of the war in Ireland, and expressed his confidence that they would continue to support him in the war with France. He told them that a great naval armament would be necessary, and that, in his opinion, the conflict by land could not be effectually maintained with less than sixty-five thousand men.[146]

He was thanked in affectionate terms; the force which he asked was voted; and large supplies were granted with little difficulty. But when the Ways and Means were taken into consideration, symptoms of discontent began to appear. Eighteen months before, when the Commons had been employed in settling the Civil List, many members had shown a very natural disposition to complain of the amount of the salaries and fees received by official men. Keen speeches had been made, and, what was much less usual, had been printed; there had been much excitement out of doors; but nothing had been done. The subject was now revived. A report made by the Commissioners who had been appointed in the preceding year to examine the public accounts disclosed some facts which excited indignation, and others which raised grave suspicion. The House seemed fully determined to make an extensive reform; and, in truth, nothing could have averted such a reform except the folly and violence of the reformers. That they should have been angry is indeed not strange. The enormous gains, direct and indirect, of the servants of the public went on increasing, while the gains of every body else were diminishing. Rents were falling; trade was languishing; every man who lived either on what his ancestors had left him or on the fruits of his own industry was forced to retrench. The placeman alone throve amidst the general distress. "Look," cried the incensed squires, "at the Comptroller of the Customs. Ten years ago, he walked, and we rode. Our incomes have been curtailed; his salary has been doubled; we have sold our horses; he has bought them; and now we go on foot, and are splashed by his coach and six." Lowther vainly endeavoured to stand up