Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

pension. The English name would, too, have sounded badly in debate. Pitt, even Pitt, would not have talked so glibly of suspending the act for preventing unjust imprisonment. Men out of doors would have been startled at such a proposition; upon inquiry they would have found, that, from the moment this act was suspended, any man in the kingdom was liable to be seized by a messenger from the offices of government and to be imprisoned as long as the council thought proper, without any trial, and without any mode of obtaining redress. or even a hearing in his defence; and, finding this, it is not to be believed, that they would have acted as they did. From this digression, in which I have anticipated myself as to one objection to the teaching of what modern imposture and ifnpudence term “the Learned Languages," I return to sine-cure places, the nature of which I have endeavoured to explain to you. But, Gentlemen, persons to fill, if it may be so called, places where there is nothing to do but to receive the salaries or fees, are found in such abundance and they meet with ministers so ready to reward their public services, that these places, alas! numerous as they are, fall far short of the number required. They are all filled, at all times. This being the case, all that a poor minister can do for his friends, or relations, is to promise them the first vacancy. But, here arises a difficulty: two difficulties indeed; for the minister may not keep his promise; and, if, by any chance, he should be disposed to do that, he may not keep his place; besides which he may die, or the asker of the place may cease tasupport him. Therefore, in order to make things as sure as this sublunary state of things will admit of, the place-hunter says, if you cannot give me the place, give me the reversion of it: that is to say, obtain meagrant from the king, making me the heir of the man who now holds the place. Nay, sometimes these reversions are granted to two or three persons at once; first to one, and, if he or..she should die, to another, and, if he or she should die to another, in which way, the late ministers have asserted in open parliament, that most of the places upon the Irish establishment are now granted, many of the grantees being young children; so that the places are granted away for sixty or eighty years to come. This, Gentlemen, is what is meant by granting places in reversion, pensions, observe, being frequently granted in the same manner, and also some ofces which are not perfect sinecures. The late ministry, composed of our friends, the Whigs,

brought in a bill, a day or two lefore their being ousted, to prevent, for the future, the granting of places in reversion. Their successors, though they have, as you have seen, obtained a decided majority in both Houses of Parliament, did net oppose the passing of this bill. But, when it came to the noble Lords, the noble Lords quickly dispatched it. On the 4th instant they did this, after a debate, which I shall here insert exactly as I find it reported in the Morning Chronicle newspaper; and I beseech you to read every word of it with attention. * Lord ARDEN considered the bill to be “ an unnecessary and indecent attack upon the king's lawful prerogative. Nothing “whatever had been stated to prove that such a measure was necessary, except “ merely an expression in the preamble of “ the bill, that it was expedient for the “ public service. The manner also in which “ the bill originated was very unusual, and no ground had been shewn to prove that there was any necessity to make such an attack upon the king's just prerogative. He should therefore oppose the bill and “ take the sense of the house upon it. “ Earl Grosvenor expressed great regret “ at the opposition given to this bill by his noble friend. He conceived the bill to “ be so completely in unison with the po: “pular feeling at the present moment, that “ it would be unwise to reject it, and he “ thought his majesty's ministers, by oppo“ sing the bill, would render themselves so

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“unpopular that they would not long re

“ main in office. He was a warm friend to “ the bill, not merely for its own sake, but for the sake of those measures of reform “ relative to the public expenditure, of which he considered this merely as the “ for runner; measures which were highly “ necessary at a crisis like the present, ** when it was of so much importance to “ engage the hearts as well as the arms of “ the people. He trusted their lordships “ would not be induced to reject the bill. “The EARL of LAUDERDALE called their “ lordships attention to his majesty's speech at the close of the last session, in which satisfaction was expressed at the conduct “ of the Committee of l'inance, and contended that this bill, being the only measure which that committee had then recommended, the king's speech contained “ in effect an approval of the measure. After ministers had thus approved of the “ measure, after they had approved of it in the other house, and after the bill had been so inng in this house, he was greatly astonished at the opposition it now expe

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

rienced. He could not help also advertingto the conduct of his majesty's ministers upon this occasion. If they now thought this bill ought not to pass, why did they . not attend in their places, and oppose it in a manly manuer, instead of staying away themselves, laud sending their friends and connections to oppose the bill 2" [None of the ministers were present, except the lord chancellor.J. “He did not mean by this to impute to the no-. ble lord that he was seat there for that purpose; but that: construction would be put upon such conduct by the public. He was convinced that the public feeling, was strougly-in favour, of the bill;-and, that: ought to be, at the present moment, a

'strong argument in its a favour.s. The .

granting of offices in reversion he censidered to be highly prejudicial to the public service, and highly improper; such grants being frequently made to children, at a very early age, and such offices, although requiring regulation,. . from a change of circumstances, could not, during such grant, be regulated for the be-, nefit of the public. He would instance one case, that of the large office held by the noble lord (Arden), and the reversion of which had been granted to him after the death of his father, whose public services were undoubtedly great, at a time when the income arising from it was comparatively trifling. . The profits of it had since increased to an amount which could not possibly have been in the contemplation of any one, and which arose, in a great degree, from the misfortunes of the country. It would, no doubt, have been thought expedient to regulate an office of that description. He thought, upon every ground that could be stated, that this bill ought to be proceeded in. “ LoRD ARD EN said he was not sent to that house to oppose the bill, nor would he be sent there by any man : , he opposed the bill because he conceived it to be his duly, as a peer of parliament to do so. “The EARL of LAUDERDALE, in expla. nation, disclaimed any intention of throwing the least imputation upon the noble lord; he only mean to allude to the construction which would be put in the pub

lic mind upon the opposition given to the .

bill, coupled with the absence of his ma-. jesty's ministers. - - “ Lowd Viscount Melville said there

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

“ there was any such feeling in the public

mind, nor was there ary, thing in the bill by which the public. could be benefited. : If the bill were to pass, not a sirpence, would be saved by it r the offices would remain the same ; and, the only object' of it would be to encroach upon the king's just and lawful prerogative: "The noble lord had spoken of reversions being granted to children, but was it not the practice, when great services had been performed by an Admiral or General, to confer hereditary honours, and to grant also an annual sum, which was not confined to the person to whom granted, but was extended to his descendants It had been the constant practice of our ancestors to act upon this principle. He would put a case also to shew the expedi. ency of acting upon it in other instances: suppose a person was rendered incapable by age or infirmity from executing the duties of an ottice which he had held for 20 or 30 years; such a person was not to be turned out without some provision. There were in this case only two modes of acting; the one by a pension, aud the other by granting the reversion of the office to his son or other relation, who might ASSIST him in the office. By a the former mode, a charge was made upon the public during the life of that person, and in the latter there was no additional expense. He could discover iothing in support of this bill, but an assertion that it, was expedient; whilst, on the other band, there was the utiforn practice of our ancestors. He could not, therefore, consent to such a bill as the

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

present, nor could be for a moment consent, that after a beneficent reign of nearly half a century, such an attack should be made upon the prerogative and influence of a beloved and revered mouarch.

“ Lord Hollasp said, as the noble viscount had began his speech by stating that there was only one point in the speech of his noble friend (the earl of Lauderdale), in which he agreed, so he would observe, that there was only one point in the speech of the noble viscount in which he had the good fortune to agree, and that was, that his majesty's ministers ought to have been present to have declared their sentinents in a manly manner upon this bill. As to the charge made by the noble viscount, of the absence of the members of the late administration, he could assure their lordships, that, had there been the least expectation that this bill would be opposed, there would have been a full attendance of those noble lords, with whom he had the honour to act. But when it was recollected that only four-and-twenty hours notice had been given of any intention to oppose this bill (he did not mean to throw any imputation upon the noble lord who had commenced this debate), there was not

much ground for surprise at the thin st

tendance. He thought it, however, of so much importance that this bill should be debated in a full house, that he in

tended to move to adjourn the debate till

to morrow, in order to give an opportunity for that full attendance, which the importance of the subject demanded. After the bill had been nearly a month before the house, without appearing to meet with any objection, he was astonished that it should now be attempted to be debated in a thin house, and at so late a period of the session. His noble friends had not atteñded, because they thought there was no intention of opposing the bill; he was convinced they would attend if the consideration of the bill was postponed till to morrow. He entirely agreed with his noble friend (earl Grosvenor), that this bill was only to be considered as the forerunner of important measures of reform and economy in the public erpendi. ture of the country. When it was in contemplation to abolish or to regulate offices, it was natural as the first step to be taken, to prevent those offices being granted in reversion, because if they were it was obvious that for a considerable time

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

was so much interested in this bill, which he contended it was, and he begged leave to say that he thought the noble viscount in denying the existence of this public feeling was mistaken. He was convinced that if ministers thought that the rejection of this measure would not be an unpopular measure, they would find themselves miserably mistaken. He denied that the bill was an encroachment upon the just prerogative of the crown, on the contrary, the granting in reversion was an encroachment upon that prerogative, and upon this subject he would put the case, which, though an extreme one, would shew the tendency of the argument, namely, that of all the offices being granted in reversion, it would necessarily follow, that the

successor to the crown would find himself

[blocks in formation]

It might be true that, by the operation of this bill in itself, no* thing would be saved; but when it was

He did not conceive, however, that a bill of so much importance should be decided upon in so thin a house, and . “ Lord Boris GDoN expressed his regret “ at differing from many noble lords with whom he usually acted; but when he considered that this bill had been sup“ ported by ministers, had passed the other house, and had been received with nearly an unanimous consent, added to the circumstances of the present moment, he “felt it his duty to vote for it.”—After this, the noble Lords dirided, as it is called, nine noble Lords voting for Lord Horland's motion, and sixteen noble Lords against it; so that the bill, by a subsequent division, was thrown out. ft will not be necessary, Gentlemen, to say, much to you upon this subject. You will have perceived, that, out of about three Aundred noble Lords, there were only 25 noble Lords present upon this occasion. The Morning Chronicle has given a list of the places, which are held by the noble Lords, who voted against this bill; but I shall give no such list, nor any list at all of the majority. or the minority; for, as to motives, I believe every noble Lord of them is animated by such as are equally pure and upright, however the said noble Lords may, “ under existing circumstances,” entertain, •or act upon, sentiments widely different. It is, however, worthy of notice, that the fear of depriving the successor of the king of all influence from the granting of places, was openly avowed; and, I have heard, that this was the principal, if not the only motive, from which the late ministers introduced the bril; though, it must be observed, that this does not very well agree with the idea of economy, as connected with the bill for preventing grams in reversion. The truth is, that, if economy had been the object, the bill would have been of a different description. It would have enacted, that such and such places, when the present holders died, should be abolished, and the expences of them put an end to. This would have been doing something; but, if we are still to be taxed to pay the holders of these places, what is it to you or me, whether the holders of them are appointed by the present king, or by his successor 3 Lord Holland, after Lord Grosvenor, regarded the bill as the Jorerunner of a series of reforms. Such reforms would have been, I imagine, of but very little service to us. They would, in fact, have been injurious; for, while they would have afforded us no real relief, they would have served to amuse ignorant peoPle, and would have afforded the sycophants of office grounds whereon to defend their Patrons. “Here,” would they have said,

[graphic]
[graphic]
[ocr errors]

“ don't you see, that they have begun to re.

“ form :" And with this they would have deceived thousands upon thousands of wellmeaning men. -Lord Melville compared the place-holders to Asmirals and Generals, who have merited great rewards from their country, and whose descendants are generally provided for. The provision, in such cases is just, because, what gratification could it be to a man to be made grett and rich himself, if his sons were, upon his death, to be, at once hurled down from the rank, in which their father had lived. And, the same reasoning will apply to men who have residered great services to the country in any other way. But, how stands the fact, with respect to the holders of the places in question Have they rendered great services to their country I will give you a list of a few of them and their holders, and, then, leave you to answer me: Cus

Earl of Liverpool, Collector of - ... 81,800 a year.

toms inwards. . . . .

Lord Hawkesbury, Warden of the Cinque Ports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4,100 Earl of Chichester, Surveyor Gen. of customs. . . . . . . . . ------ - - - - - - --- - . 1,400 - Earl of Guildford, Comptroller of customs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,300 Lord Stawell, surveyor of Petty custons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1,200 Duke of Manchester, Collector of customs outwards.............. 1,900 Thomas Taylor, Comptroller General 1,000

Granted in reversion to Lord Federick Montague. The above are custom-house officers for the port of London alone. What a noble thing is this commerce " But, more of that hereafter. Let us proceed with our list: Wm. H. Cooper * and Frederick Grey Cooper. To fall to the survivor. Lieut.Gen. Fox, Paymaster df widows' pensions. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81,067 To have fallen to the Pion. Charles James Fox, if he had survived his brother. Lt. Gen. Fox, Receiver of issues, &c. fees not stated. This place was enjoved by the Hon. C. James For for - his life. Lord Arden (Mr. Perceval's brether) Registrer of the Admiralty and ecclesiastical courts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . George Rose, Clerk of the Parliaments Granted in reversion to his son, George Henry Rose. Marquis of Muckingham

one of the auditors lo of land revenue ; £2,100

70 and

8,840 ~ 3,700

i. #. - Tellers of the Exchequer
Earl Bathurst
The fees of these are not stated; * *

but the amount of the salary
and fees of the first is estima-
ted at about £30,000 a year ;
cach of the others at about
...to 9,000 a year; ard, as one

place was granted in reversion, it fell, when Lord Thurlow died, to a son of Lord Auckland, the name of which son is W. F. E. Eden. Thomas Steele, King's Remembrancer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Poke of St. Alban's, Master of the Hawks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . This is a grant in perpetuity, that ever. I take these from an account laid before the Honourable House, in 1802. I have not the Scotch list immediately at hand, or I would give you some account of the places and reversions of the Dundases and Melvilles. This little specimen will, however, afford you the means of judging as to-how far the holders of the places, which we have been talking of, ought to be compared with Admirals and Generals, who have rendered important services to their country. Since the bill was thrown out by the noble Lords, the Hon. House of Commons have come to a resolution to address the king not to grant any places in reversion," until six-weeks after the commencement of the next session of parliament. It is pity the two houses should have any disagreement; it would be quite useless; it would answer no purpose; but, I am satisfied, that whatever seeming disagreement there might be between them, we, the people, should remain convinced, that they were both animated by motives equally pure and upright. I have observed, that cases may arise, when it is just and proper to entail rewards upon the families of others than soldiers or seamen ; but these cases inust be rare; for, let it be remembered, that, in the civil offices, the salaries are very great compared to the pay of the officers in the army and the navy. In these latter services, too, a whole Life is devoted, besides the first purchase of the commission. In fact, the cases are altogether different, and will bear no comparison. * * * * * . ... r Having thus endeavoured clearly to lay before you the nature of the offices in question and the tendency of the bill which has been thrown out by the noble Lords, I shall leave you to ruminate upon the matter, and to come to such a conclusion as your good sense shall dictate. "I cannot help, however, requesting you to bear in mind, that I have now proved to you, that Mr. Fox was a sine-cure placeman all his life long; and that he asserted, in parliament, that the property, or ownership, of such places was as sacred, as untouchable by act of parliament, qs any man's property in house or land! In short, that the parliament, which, as respecting all other earthly purposes, has been

[ocr errors]

1,342 is to say, for

[ocr errors]

called “ omnipotent;" that the parliament which has been described as having a right to do every thing, which it is able to do, every thing which is not naturally impossible; that this parliament has no right to take from any man the present or reversionary enjoyment of one of these places ! This was the doctrine of the man, whom, for so many years, you elected as one of your representatives! And, what is still more provoking, for the loss of whom you are called upon to | weep ! Nay, upon the ground of havirg | been a friend and supporter of whom, Mr. Sheridan had the conscience to claim your votes; and, what is worse, some of you had the patience to hear him, and even the folly to applaud him. In my next letter, which will probably be inserted in the same sheet of this, H propose to address you upon a subject of a very different nature. In the mean while, I remain, . . Gentlemen, - -* : Your faithful friend, * ' ' ' ' and obedient servant, - } --- - - WM. Cosetts.

To The - - INDEPENDENT ELECTORS QF THE

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

cITY AND LIBERTIES of westMINSTER.

LETTER XXI.

Gentlemen, - The subject, upon which I have now to address you, is, the dispute between England and the American States, of which, doubtless, all of you have heard much ; but, as it is probable, that many of you have not . leisure to examine very minutely into . the origin and grounds of the dispute, or to reflect maturely upon the consequences, to which it may lead, I trust you will not think it impertinent in me to offer you such cbservations as occur to me, relating to a matter with respect to which the people ought to be well-informed. " . . . . T. ,

It has long been a complaint, on the part of England, that the American ships, in all , parts of the world, serve is a place of refuge for deserters from the British navy. We claim a right to take our deserters where-'. ever we find them, upon the séas; and this right, though not, in my o; enough, we have exercised. We claim also. a right to take our séanen, whether deserters' or Hot, from on board the ships of any other nation, when we find such ships at sea, hav. ing, as, I. hope, we shall maio, a right of

- of 3. - - * * . . . . 4 - T.

« ZurückWeiter »