With Finance taxation screwed up to breaking point on personal and real estate, on all forms of commercial and industrial activity, and on salt, flour and other necessaries of life; with a deficit of 8,500,000 for the current year, and the prospect of a further aggregate deficit of Li ~,ooo,ooo during the next quinquennium, Sellas heroic struggle against national bankruptcy was still far from a successful termination.
Ferrara, successor of Scialoja, met a like fate; but Count Cambray-Digny, finance minister in the Menabrea cabinet of 1868-1869, driven to find means to cover a deficit aggravated by the interest on the Venetian debt, succeeded, with Sellas help, in forcing a Grist Tax Bill through parliament, though in a form of which Sella could not entirely approve.
At first the net revenue from the impost was less than 1,100,000; but under Sellas firm administration (1869-1873), and in consequence of improvements gradually introduced by him, the net return ultimately exceeded 3,200,000.
Few, except the open partisans of national bankruptcy, doubted its necessity; yet so strong was the current of feeling worked up for party purposes by opponents of the measure, that Sellas achievement in having by its means saved the financiai.situation of Italy deserves to rank among the most noteworthy performances of modern parliamentary statesmanship.
Though on more than one occasion personal rancour against the men of the Moderate Left prevented the Right from following Sellas advice and regaining, by timely coalition with cognate parliamentary elements, a portion of its former influence, the bulk of the party, with singular inconsistency, drew nearer and nearer to the Liberal cabinets.
The process was accelerated by Sellas illness and death (14th March 1884), an event which cast profound discouragement over the more thoughtful of the Conservatives Ind Moderate Liberals, by whom Sella had been regarded as a supreme political reserve, as a statesman whose experienced vigour and patriotic sagacity might have been trusted to lift Italy from any depth of folry or misfortune.