Imatges de pàgina

cedent which ought to satisfy many vantage in preventing great defalcagentlemen. At present, he concei- tions of a pecuniary kind, which had ved nothing could be worse adapted, been perpetually occasioned by this either for distinctness to its managers, absurd, confused, Gothic mode of intelligibility to the public, or for the keeping accounts? After all, where real comfort, honour, and dignity of would be the loss of dignity, if the the Crown, than the whole method, people told their Prince" You shall if method it might be called, in which be paid largely, liberally, cheerfully, the civil list had been settled. Suppose without a murmur from the people, any man, not very wellversed in the mi- who well know that your interests nutiæ of finance, wereasked how much and theirs are inseparably unitedthe revenues of the King of England not as at present, but by a fixed, conamounted to in a year, what answer stant, determined grant out of the could be given ? Every body could consolidated fund."

consolidated fund.” That, in truth, tell what was the revenue of the was his (Mr Brougham's) proposition; French King, of the American Pre- but the Chancellor of the Exchequer, sident, or formerly of the Dutch Stadt- in his love for mystery, seemed to holder ; but as to the salary of the think that there was something suKing of England, with which he sup- blime in obscurity. The misfortune ported the splendour and dignity of for him, however, was, that we lived his Crown, no man who was not a in a prying age, when men would not perfect adept in finance could give be satisfied with being told that they any conclusive information about it. must not examine and scrutinize ; Had it not been for this system of ob- and when they did inquire, they would scurity and mismanagement, Payne find that, among the hereditary reve. could never have asserted that the nues of the Crown, the Sovereign did King of England enjoyed 900,0001. not think it below his dignity to have a-year. Was it dealing fairly with his revenue made up of one penny the King to mix up with the little he per barrel upon ale, and one halfpenny was allowed (and a little it undoubt- upon whisky. This paltry pittance edly was) to defray his private ex- was accepted in exchange for the penses, and really to keep up his ho- great feudal relics of wardship and nour and dignity, the salaries of the purveyance—the especial jewels in Judges, the income of the Chancellor the crown of a feudal Sovereignof the Exchequer and his friends, the gems that

gave a glorious lustre presents to foreign ministers, and a to his ancient, real, and solid dignity. vast accumulation of claims and al- The dignity of the Sovereign appearlowances to officers, great and small, ed to him seriously injured by the of all sorts and conditions ? But, company in which he was placed by cried the right honourable gentleman the present arrangement. The ark opposite, "to simplify matters in this itself did not contain a greater vaway, to make accounts clear and ex- riety of beings than were to be found plicable, would be beneath the dig- marshalled in the civil list. There nity of the Crown.” Admitting it for was the Vicar of the Tower, with Il. a moment, was there nothing to be 13s. a-year ; the Vicar of St Botolph, gained by it—were popularity and with 11. 15s. ; the Church-wardens of the full approbation of the King's St John the Baptist, at 11. 18s. Then subjects worth no consideration? Sup- there were the Master of the Field posing there might be some slight de- Sports, the Master of the Hawks, falcation of dignity, was there no ad- and the Master of the Ceremonies. But not only were those who su- they were confined to Droits of the perintended the chase, the amuse- Admiralty ; but they were greatly ment of hawking, and the dance, mistaken. There were other sources paid out of the civil list; the ex- that placed large sums in the hands penses incidental to the keeping of of the Crown. In 1817, the sum of wild beasts were also entered amongst 130,0001. fell to the Crown, in consethe items. The keeper of the lions quence of the demise of a rich lunain the Tower was enumerated amongst tic—at least, so he understood. In the officers; and not far from him 1807, an individual who had no heirs they would find the Gentleman Usher died intestate ; his property, to the of the Black Rod. Next came the amount of 47,0001. went to the Crown. Exchequer watchmen.” It appeared In 1816, the Crown got possession of to him most fallacious to fix the civil 62,0001. in the same way. Other sums, list for the life of the King. It might, much larger in amount, were supplied in this instance, be a short life, which from different sources. In 1804, prizeGod forbid ! It might be a long and money to the amount of 105,000l. prosperous one, which God grant ! was received on one occasion. In the But, with this contingency before same year there was another sum of them, it was the greatest blunder that 40,0001., and a third of 55,000l. In sensible men ever made, or could ever 1806, those droits were augmented make, to come at once to a final ar- by 155,0001. ; and at one period there rangement of the Civil List. The came in nearly the whole proceeds House could be practically convinced of the Dutch prizes, amounting to of this fact. His late Majesty reigned 1,657,000l. From the Spanish confor 60 years; and during that period demnations the sum of 2,200,0001. there were six new arrangements, be- was derived. He was far from blamsides eight different payments in aid ing the House for having voted a of the civil list. It would appear loyal and grateful address to the King, that even nine years were too long in consequence of his having given for the continuance of this provident 1,000,000l. to carry on the expenses system. The arrangement of 1760 of the war. But how would it have was made as if it were supposed that astonished our ancestors, if they had the monarch was to live only nine beheld the Monarch, instead of callyears; but in 1769 a debtof8,000,0001. ing on Parliament to assist him with had accumulated ; and in 1777 it was a tenth, coming down to the House found necessary to grant 60,000l. as a giver and dispenser of moneymore per annum. An arrangement as the benefactor of those from whom, for life could not proceed on any one according to the safe and sacred conceivable principle. They should course of the Constitution, all money, wholly separate from the Civil List for public purposes, ought to come! the salaries of the Judges, the salary He alluded also to the revenue deof the Speaker of the House of Com- rivable from the Leeward Islands, mons—à situation that should be as from Gibraltar, from Scotland, &c. independent as that of the Sovereign which amounted to a very large sum. himself—and the payments made to How was it disposed of? In pensions. foreign ministers.

It was not under the control of ParMr Brougham now undertook to liament, and might be expended as state to the House how the sums the reward of good services or bad which formed the Droits of the Crown services, or as the meed of favouritaccrued. Gentlemen supposed that ism, or for no services at all. If any pension were necessary to be granted He had only to refer to the Dutch war to a great naval or military character in the time of Charles II. ; that war

- to Earl St Vincent, to Lord Hut- was undertaken for the purpose of chinson, to Lord Nelson, or their seizing the Smyrna fleet-for which heirs-was there an individual in that perfidious action Providence punishHouse who would not feel it to be ed that Monarch, by overwhelming his duty to recommend a grant to him and his ministers in discomfiture those gallant commanders, or their and disgrace. But, to come to later relatives ? If such a proposition were times, what did they think of the made, it was sure to be carried. But Dutch-what of the Spanish prizes? there were many other cases ; and 2,200,0001. were acquired by attackMr B. from his own side of the House ing unarmed, defenceless men-men instanced Lady Grenville, where a who knew of no reason for such a minister deemed it more advisable proceeding except that they had dolto screw a pension out of some fund lars on board their ships. At all over which Parliament had no con

events, every pretence would thus be trol, rather than bring it under the taken from their enemies for slanderconsideration of the House. Mr B. ing the nation upon this ground, As then instanced with derision the case to the 45 per cent on the native comof Sir Home Popham, who, tiring of modities of Barbadoes and the Leethe inactivity of peace, had engaged ward Islands, it had been granted in an immense smuggling transaction. originally for the building of forts, a His vessel, however, was taken by prison, session-house, and other pubCommodore Robinson, and condemn- lic charges. In Queen Anne's time, ed in a competent court. Yet Sir it appeared that a complaint was made Home had received, first 25,0001., to Parliament which that body listen. and then 50,0001., out of these droits, ed to, and petitioned the Queen to as expenses of suit, and to console restore the fund to its proper uses. him under the disappointment. If Here it was lost sight of, till it was these droits were dangerous in their strangely found to have become the application, their origin appeared to absolute

property of the Crown, which him ten times worse. They offered now made it a fund for obscure pena temptation to the Crown to embark sioners of all descriptions. Upon the in wars, and though he did not be- whole, Mr Brougham concluded, that lieve that any Sovereign since Charles if now, in opposition to the clear law II. would be covertly swayed to en- of the question, in opposition to the gage in war by this motive, yet his constitutional view of its principle, in aversion to it might be mitigated. But the face of numerous precedents of the chief danger appeared to him to mischievous abuse derived from hisarise from the regulation, that every tory-if now the House neglected prize made before a declaration of the opportunity of wiping away a foul war became a droit of the Crown. The blot on the honour of the country, tendency of those funds was, to give by giving up a vile relic of feudal ministers a direct interest in proceed. barbarism, useless for any national ing to hostilities before a declaration purposes, and serving only as an ocof war, and thus they lowered the casion of calumny to our carping rihonour and character of the country. vals and bitter enemies—if now, when These vessels were the purchase-mo- this mischief could be done away, ney of the honour, the good faith, the without injury to the Crown, and with pure and unsullied name of England. benefit to the people, the House should suffer the opportunity to be that they enabled the crown to belost, it would, in fact, go the length stow secret bounties on obscure faof saying that these droits ought tovourites. This was a singular charemain for ever a lasting anomaly in racter of a fund, one of the first names the law and constitution, a perennial on which was the illustrious William source of abuses, and a perpetual Pitt, Earl of Chatham, and one of stigma on the character of the coun- the last, Edmund Burke. Without try.

discussing at present the right of the Mr Canning stood up to oppose the Crown to the droits of Admiralty, he motion. Any one who had merely would merely state the mode in which heard the vehement close of the speech they had been administered. In the of the honourable gentleman, would course of the late reign, the whole have supposed it directed against some proceeds of this fund had amounted new assault of arbitrary power-some to about 9,700,0001. Out of this there sudden encroachment of ministerial had been paid to captors and for varapacity; but a person would have rious law expences 5,372,000l. There been much surprised to learn that the remained, therefore, something more object was to propose an innovation, than 4,000,0001. to be accounted for. which, instead of relieving, tended to Out of that sum 2,600,0001. had been levy a new burden on the people. contributed for the public service; He could answer, however, both for and two several sums had been given, the crown and for ministers, that they one in aid of the civil list, the other would reject the boon offered for sells of the 41 per cent fund. The first of ing the royal prerogatives. The pro- these contributions was 1,300,0001., position from the throne stated that the second 40,0001. ; there remained, no new burden was contemplated for therefore, about 380,0001. to be acthe support of the civil government counted for. This sum had been paid and of the splendour of the crown. partly in donations to different branchIt was ungraciously said, that thoughes, and partly in entertainments to no new fund was wanted, yet it was foreign sovereigns. The expenditure, the business of the House to see whe- however, of the whole, had been comther there was not something to take municated to Parliament. It was part away. The honourable and learned of the new arrangement that an ac, gentleman had fairly, indeed more count of every grant out of this fund than fairly, professed his willingness should, as a matter of course, and to make compensation for all he should without address, be laid before the take away; so that the question, as House in every session, immediately far as his argument was concerned, after such grant. It was admitted was not one of diminution or retrench- that there had been no remarkable ment, but of bargain and sale, with abuse of the fund in question: still it the chance of indicting further bur- was urged, that Parliament would dens on the people. With regard to make a better application. “ The hothe 41 per cent duties, there was in. nourable and learned gentleman,” said deed some obscurity in their origin; Mr Canning, "states truly what he but the usage of four reigns, during says of those on this side of the House, upwards of a century, established the and what I would say were I where existence of the property, and the he sits ; but I think it better that the custom and power of granting pen- patronage of the Crown should resions on it. But it was said to be ward public services by property unthe evil of those uncontrolled funds, der its peculiar protection, than that



[ocr errors][ocr errors]

a democratic assembly should dole that could be employed was, that out largesses and favours according every, vestige of feudal monarchy to the impulse and force of passion, would thus be removed. But though party, or canvass. We have had in- a plausible constitution might be estastances enough, in our own memory, blished, and one that would look well of what canvass can do. Setting on upon paper, he could not consent to the one side the chances of favour, see the monarch thus stripped naked, canvass, party, and inadvertency; on and every trace of antiquity done the other, the chances of extrava- away with. Even this would not sagance, I do think the Crown the bet- tisfy a certain class of politicians. Mr ter trustee. The present state of the B. himself admitted that he had not droits in consideration is sanctioned made up his mind whether the insulaby long usage, if it is not stained by ted king should have the control of his abuse; and in the long period of 60 own household ; whether the various years the honourable and learned gen- items of charge in that department tleman has hit upon only one ques- should be audited by a committee of tionable case, and that case question, this House, or by the King himself. able only in the view which he has if the household were not given up taken of it. I entreat of the learned to his Majesty's management, the civil and honourable gentleman not to con- list could be quoted and exposed to cede anything to the moral character much greater ridicule than the hoof the administration. I entreat of nourable and learned gentleman had him not to concede anything to the thrown upon the part he had selectcharacter of the existing Sovereign; ed. Unless the monarch should be and, in a constitutional view, nothing put on board-wages, and should dine of this kind ought to be conceded. in a chop-house, they must come to The honourable and learned gentle- the monstrous conclusion that there man spoke properly of Charles II., would be more dishes on his table for a king once departed from life is than he absolutely required. When fair subject of animadversion. But I he had entered that House, he had ask him whether, on the average vir- expected something more practicable tue of kings and ministers, if you from the honourable and learned genplace four millions—and that is be- tleman than a proposal to strip the yond any case that can be imagined crown, at one sweep, of all that adornLif you place four millions against ed it since the Revolution; to divest all the evil, the danger, and the dis- the King of his peculiar power and grace that must overwhelm them when privileges; to make the civil list less the proceedings, perhaps in twelve involved by making it entirely new, hours after, becomes known to Par. When nothing was demanded; when liament, I ask, whether, in such a the sovereign- he would not say concase, any administration would rush sented— declared that he would reinto war? I ask whether, in times ceive with gratitude and satisfaction such as we live in, for the sake of any the civil list that had been acquiesced haul of droits- I do not say in for four years when this declaravereign-I do not say his ministers— tion was made, when the sovereign but whether the vilest mind that ever expressed himself satisfied, and demeddled with public affairs, or con

clared that he would have no reductemplated public administration,could tion made upon any sums falling into recommend a wanton and unjustifia- ' the country-what was the return ? hle war ?" The only other argument “Ay, but you have other funds, and

the so

« AnteriorContinua »