Slike strani

for any invidious purpose. It is in order | administration contemptible? No! No! to excite in us the spirit of a noble emula- He is conscious, that the sense of mankind tion. Let the nations make war upon is so clear and decided in favour of œcoeach other (since we must make war) not nomy, and of the weight and value of its with a low and vulgar malignity, but by a resources, that he turns himself to every competition of virtues. This is the only species of fraud and artifice, to obtain the way by which both parties can gain by mere reputation of it. Men do not affect war. The French have imitated us; let a conduct that tends to their discredit. us, through them, imitate ourselves; our- Let us, then, get the better of M. Neckar selves in our better and happier days. If in his own way-Let us do in reality what public frugality, under whatever men, or he does only in pretence.-Let us turn his in whatever mode of government, is na- French tinsel into English gold. Is then tional strength, it is a strength which our the mere opinion and appearance of frugaenemies are in possession of before us. lity and good management of such use to France, and is the substance to be so mischievous to England? Is the very constitution of nature so altered by a sea of 20 miles, that economy should give power on the continent, and that profusion should give it here? For God's sake let not this be the only fashion of France which we refuse to copy.

Sir, I am well aware, that the state and the result of the French œconomy which I have laid before you, are even now lightly treated by some, who ought never to speak but from information. Pains have not been spared to represent them as impositions on >the public. Let me tell you, Sir, that the creation of a navy, and a two years ) war without taxing, are a very singular species of imposture. But be it so. For what end does Neckar carry on this delusion? Is it to lower the estimation of the crown he serves, and to render his own


To the last kind of necessity, the desires of the people, I have but a very few words to say. The ministers seem to contest this point; and affect to doubt, whether the people do really desire a plan of

LOUIS, &c.-Having reflected, that, without essential alterations in the direction of the expences of our houshold, we should hardly be able to establish a permanent improvement in the conducting of them, we have begun by reducing the great number of coffers and treasuries to one only. We have, by our edict of this day, united all the offices of our household with the casual revenues; and now, to render the plan we have prescribed to ourselves more complete, we have thought proper to suppress the offices of comptroller-general of our houshold, and of the money-chamber; that of the lieutenant-comptroller-general of }the furniture belonging to the crown; the of fices of lieutenants and comptrollers-general of our stables, those of lieutenants and comptrollers-general of the plate, the houshold amusements, and affairs of our chamber; the two offices of comptrollers-general to the queen's houshold, our dearest wife and companion; and we will that all these offices shall be paid in ready money after their liquidation. At the same time we have thought proper to establish a general office for the expences of our houshold, which shall be composed of two magistrates taken from our chamber of accounts, and five commissioners-general which shall be thrown out by this arrangement, and who, in uniting their different knowledge, will be very capable of conducting, with spirit and uniformity, the whole expences of our housebold. This office is to be immediately employed in a full examination of every part of it, in order to produce the greatest perspicuity,

[ocr errors]

for the purpose of introducing all the improve-
ments of every kind, which the business is ca-
pable of; and shall render an exact account of
their operations both to the minister of our
houshold, and that of finances, for the better
introducing in this establishment every altera-
tion which shall be found useful, and to the
execution of which there yet remains every
obstacle; that they may thus be immediately
known and removed, and that our general ad-
ministration being thus drawn into one common
office, may receive all the lights necessary for
accomplishing the plan we have approved. We
keep our high and chief officers in the honour-
able situation of receiving our orders imme-
diately from us, transmitting them, and watch-
ing that they are put into execution.-But
they being called out on our service in our pro-
vinces and armies, and not having time to spare
in inspecting the particulars of finance and
œconomy, which require continual assiduity
and watchfulness, we imagine they will be-
hold, without pain, this part of our adminis-
tration separated from their noble offices near
our person; and we have too much expe-
rienced their zeal and attachment not to be con-
vinced that they will eagerly second the ge-
neral plan for the establishment of regularity
in our finances, and to prove more and more to
our faithful subjects, how much it is our de-
sire to avoid having recourse to new taxes, till
we have estimated all the resources arising
from this system of order and œconomy.
For these causes, &c.'
This edict consists of 16 articles.

which, above all the rest, distinguishes a wise government from an administration weak and improvident, it is this:-"well to know the best time and manner of yielding, what it is impossible to keep."There have been, Sir, and there are, many who choose to chicane with their situation, rather than be instructed by it. Those gentlemen argue against every desire of reformation, upon the principles of a criminal prosecution. It is enough for them to justify their adherence to a pernicious system, that it is not of their contrivance; that it is an inheritance of absurdity, derived to them from their ancestors; that they can make out a long and unbroken pedigree of mismanagers that have gone before them. They are proud of the antiquity of their house; and they defend their errors, as if they were defending their inheritance: afraid of derogating from their nobility; and carefully avoiding a sort of blot in their scutcheon, which they think would degrade them for ever.

It was thus that the unfortunate Charles the 1st defended himself on the practice of the Stuart who went before him, and of all the Tudors; his partizans might have gone to the Plantagenets.-They might have found bad examples enough, both abroad and at home, that could have shewn an ancient and illustrious descent. But there is a time, when men will not suffer bad things because their ancestors have suffered worse. There is a time, when the hoary head of inveterate abuse will neither draw reverence nor obtain protection. If the noble lord in the blue ribbon pleads " Not guilty," to the charges brought against the present system of public œconomy, it is not possible to give a fair verdict by which he will not stand acquitted. But pleading is not our present business. His plea or his traverse may be allowed as an answer to a charge when a charge is made. But if he puts himself in the way to obstruct reformation, then the faults of his office instantly become his own. Instead of a public officer in an abusive department, whose province is an object to be regulated, he becomes a criminal who is to be punished. I do most seriously put it to administration, to consider the wisdom of a timely reform. Early reformations are amicable arrangements with a friend in power; late reformations are terms imposed upon a conquered enemy: early reformations are made in cool blood; late reformations are made under a state of inflammation. In that

œconomy in the civil government. Sir, this is too ridiculous. It is impossible that they should not desire it. It is impossible that a prodigality which draws its resources from their indigence, should be pleasing to them. Little factions of pensioners, and their dependents, may talk another language. But the voice of nature is against them; and it will be heard. The people of England will not, they cannot, take it kindly, that representatives should refuse to their constituents, what an absolute sovereign voluntarily offers to his subjects. The expression of the petition is, that "before any new burthens are laid upon this country, effectual measures be taken by this House, to enquire into, and correct, the gross abuses in the expenditure of public money."

This has been treated by the noble lord in the blue ribbon, as a wild factious language. It happens, however, that the people in their address to us, use almost word for word the same terms as the king of France uses in addressing himself to his people; and it differs only, as it falls short of the French king's idea of what is due to his subjects. "To convince," says he, "our faithful subjects of the desire we entertain not to recur to new impositions, until we have first exhausted all the resources which order and economy can possibly supply," &c. &c.

These desires of the people of England, which come far short of the voluntary concessions of the king of France, are moderate indeed. They only contend that we should interweave some œconomy with the taxes with which we have chosen to begin the war. They request, not that you should rely upon ceconomy exclusively, but that you should give it rank and precedence, in the order of the ways and means of this single session.

But if it were possible, that the desires of our constituents, desires which are at once so natural, and so very much tempered and subdued, should have no weight with a House of Commons, which has its eye elsewhere; I would turn my eyes to the very quarter to which theirs are directed. I would reason this matter with the House, on the mere policy of the question; and I would undertake to prove, that an early dereliction of abuse, is the direct interest of government; of government taken abstractedly from its duties, and considered merely as a system intending its own conservation.

If there is any one eminent criterion,

frustrate their attainment of what they have an undoubted right to expect. We are under infinite obligations to our constituents, who have raised us to so distin

state of things the people behold in government nothing that is respectable. They see the abuse, and they will see nothing else. They fall into the temper of a furious populace provoked at the dis-guished a trust, and have imparted such a order of a house of ill fame; they never degree of sanctity to common characters. attempt to correct or regulate; they go to We ought to walk before them with puwork by the shortest way. They abate rity, plainness, and integrity of heart; with the nuisance, they pull down the house. filial love, and not with slavish fear, which is always a low and tricking thing. For my own part, in what I have meditated upon that subject, I cannot indeed take upon me to say I have the honour to follow the sense of the people. The truth is, I met it on the way, while I was pursuing their interest according to my own ideas. I am happy beyond expression to find that my intentions have so far coincided with theirs, that I have not had cause to be in the least scrupulous to sign their petition, conceiving it to express my own opinions, as nearly as general terms can express the object of particular arrangements.

I am therefore satisfied to act as a fair mediator between government and the people, endeavouring to form a plan which should have both an early and a temperate operation. I mean, that it should be substantial; that should be systematic. That it should rather strike at the first cause of prodigality and corrupt influence, than attempt to follow them in all' their effects.

This is my opinion with regard to the true interest of government. But as it is the interest of government that reformation should be early, it is the interest of the people that it should be temperate. It is their interest, because a temperate reform is permanent; and because it has a principle of growth. Whenever we improve, it is right to leave room for a further improvement. It is right to consider, to look about us, 'to examine the effect of what we have done. Then we can proceed with confidence, because we can proceed with intelligence. Whereas in hot reformations, in what men, more zealous than considerate, call making clear work, the whole is generally so crude, so harsh, so indigested; mixed with so much imprudence, and so much injustice; so contrary to the whole course of human nature, and human institutions, that the very people who are most eager for it, are among the first to grow disgusted at what they have done. Then some part of the abdicated grievance is recalled from its exile in order to become a corrective of the correction. Then the abuse assumes all the credit and popularity of a reform. The very idea of purity and disinterestedness in politics falls into disrepute, and is considered as a vision of hot and inexperienced men; and thus disorders become incurable, not by the virulence of their own quality, but by the unapt and violent nature of the remedies. A great part therefore, of my idea of reform, is meant to operate gradually; some benefits will come at a nearer, some at a more remote period. We must no more make haste to be rich by parsimony, than by intemperate acquisition.

In my opinion, it is our duty when we have the desires of the people before us, to pursue them, not in the spirit of literal obedience, which may militate with their very principle, much less to treat them with a peevish and contentious litigation, as if we were adverse parties in a suit. It would, Sir, be most dishonourable for a faithful representative of the Commons, to take advantage of any inartificial expression of the people's wishes, in order to

It was to fulfil the first of these objects (the proposal of something substantial) that I found myself obliged at the outset, to reject a plan proposed by an honourable and attentive member of parliament, (Mr. Gilbert) with very good intentions on his part, about a year or two ago. Sir, the plan I speak of was the tax of 25 per cent. moved upon places and pensions during the continuance of the American war.*Nothing, Sir, could have met my ideas more than such a tax if it was considered as a practical satire on that war, and as a penalty upon those who led us into it; but in any other view it appeared to me very liable to objections. I considered the scheme as neither substantial, nor permanent, nor systematical, nor likely to be a corrective of evil influence. I have always thought employments a very proper subject of regulation, but a very ill-chosen subject for a tax. An equal tax upon property is reasonable; because the object is of the same quality throughout. The species is the same, it differs only in its

* See Vol. 19, p. 873.

quantity; but a tax upon salaries is totally | merit, for an indemnity to the idle and the of a different nature; there can be no worthless. But I shall say no more upon equality, and consequently no justice, in this topic, because (whatever may be given taxing them by the hundred in the gross. out to the contrary) I know that the noble lord in the blue ribbon perfectly agrees with me in these sentiments.

We have, Sir, on our establishment, several offices which perform real service -we have also places that provide large rewards for no service at all. We have stations which are made for the public decorum; made for preserving the grace and majesty of a great people-we have likewise expensive formalities, which tend rather to the disgrace than the ornament of the state and the court. This, Sir, is the real condition of our establishments. To fall with the same severity on objects so perfectly dissimilar, is the very reverse of a reformation. I mean a reformation framed, as all serious things ought to be, in number, weight and measure.-Suppose, for instance, that two men receive a salary of 800l. a year each.-In the office of one there is nothing at all to be done; in the other, the occupier is oppressed by its duties. Strike off 25 per cent. from these two offices, you take from one man 2001. which in justice he ought to have, and you give in effect to the other 6001. which he ought not to receive. The public robs the former, and the latter robs the public; and this mode of mutual robbery is the only way in which the office and the public can make up their accounts.

After all that I have said on this subject, I am so sensible, that it is our duty to try every thing which may contribute to the relief of the nation, that I do not attempt wholly to reprobate the idea even of a tax. Whenever, Sir, the incumbrance of useless office (which lies no less a dead weight upon the service of the state, than upon its revenues) shall be removed;— when the remaining offices shall be classed according to the just proportion of their rewards and services, so as to admit the application of an equal rule to their taxation; when the discretionary power over the civil list cash shall be so regulated, that a minister shall no longer have the means of repaying with a private, what is taken by a public hand-if after all these preliminary regulations, it should be thought that a tax on places is an object worthy of the public attention, I shall be very ready to lend my hand to a reduction of their emoluments.

But the balance in settling the account of this double injustice, is much against the state. The result is short. You purchase a saving of 2001. by a profusion of six. Besides, Sir, whilst you leave a supply of unsecured money behind, wholly at the discretion of ministers, they make up the tax to such places as they wish to favour, or in such new places as they may choose to create. Thus the civil list becomes oppressed with debt; and the public is obliged to repay, and to repay with an heavy interest, what it has taken by an injudicious tax. Such has been the effect of the taxes hitherto laid on pensions and employments, and it is no encouragement to recur again to the same expedient.

In effect, such a scheme is not calculated to produce, but to prevent, reformation. It holds out a shadow of present gain to a greedy and necessitous public, to divert their attention from those abuses, which in reality are the great causes of their wants. It is a composition to stay enquiry; it is a fine paid by mismanagement, for the renewal of its lease. What is worse, it is a fine paid by industry and

Having thus, Sir, not so much absolutely rejected, as postponed, the plan of a taxation of office,-my next business was to find something which might be really substantial and effectual. I am quite clear, that if we do not go to the very origin and first ruling cause of grievances, we do nothing. What does it signify to turn abuses out of one door, if we are to let them in at another? What does it signify to promote œconomy upon a measure, and to suffer it to be subverted in the principle? Our ministers are far from being wholly to blame for the present ill order which prevails. Whilst institutions directly repugnant to good management are suffered to remain, no effectual or lasting reform can be introduced.

I therefore thought it necessary, as soon as I conceived thoughts of submitting to you some plan of reform, to take a com. prehensive view of the state of this country; to make a sort of survey of its jurisdictions, its estates, and its establishments. Something, in every one of them, seemed to me to stand in the way of all œconomy in their administration, and prevented every possibility of methodizing the system. But being, as I ought to be, doubtful of myself, I was resolved not to proceed in an arbitrary manner, in any par


ticular which tended to change the settled state of things, or in any degree to affect the fortune or situation, the interest or the importance, of any individual. By an arbitrary proceeding, I mean one conducted by the private opinions, tastes, or feelings, of the man who attempts to regulate. These private measures are not standards of the exchequer, nor balances of the sanctuary. General principles cannot be debauched or corrupted by interest or caprice; and by those principles I was resolved to work.

1st, That all jurisdictions which furnish mote matter of expence, more temptation to oppression, or more means and instruments of corrupt influence, than advantage to justice or political administration, ought to be abolished.

2ndly, That all public estates which are more subservient to the purposes of vexing, overawing, and influencing those who hold under them, and to the expence of perception and management, than of benefit to the revenue, ought, upon every principle, both of revenue and of freedom, to be disposed of.

3dly, That all offices which bring more charge than proportional advantage to the state; that all offices which may be engrafted on others, uniting and simplifying their duties, ought, in the first case, to be taken away; and in the second, to be consolidated.

knowledge, can never say what it is that he can spend, or what it is that he can


Sir, before I proceed further, I will lay these principles fairly before you, that af-nagement. terwards you may be in a condition to judge whether every object of regulation, as I propose it, comes fairly under its rule. This will exceedingly shorten all discussion between us, if we are perfectly in earnest in establishing a system of good management. I therefore lay down to myself seven fundamental rules; they might indeed be reduced to two or three simple maximis, but they would be too general, and their application to the several heads of the business before us, would not be so distinct and visible. I conceive then,

4thly, That all such offices ought to be abolished, as obstruct the prospect of the general superintendant of finance; which destroy his superintendency, which disable him from foreseeing and providing for charges as they may occur; from preventing expence in its origin, checking it in its progress, or securing its application to its proper purposes. A minister under whom expences can be made without his [VOL. XXI.]

5thly, That it is proper to establish an invariable order in all payments: which will prevent partiality; which will give preference to services, not according to the importunity of the demandant, but the rank and rder of their utility or their justice.

6thly, That it is right to reduce every establishment, and every part of an establishment (as nearly as possible) to certainty, the life of all order and good ma

7thly, That all subordinate treasuries, as the nurseries of mismanagement, and as naturally drawing to themselves as much money as they can, keeping it as long as they can, and accounting for it as late as they can, ought to be dissolved. They have a tendency to perplex and distract the public accounts, and to excite a suspicion of government even beyond the extent of their abuse.

Under the authority and with the guidance of those principles, I proceed; wishing that nothing in any establishment may be changed, where I am not able to make a strong, direct, and solid application of those principles, or of some one of them. An economical constitution is a necessary basis for an economical administration.

First, with regard to the sovereign jurisdictions, I must observe, Sir, that whoever takes a view of this kingdom in a cursory manner, will imagine, that he beholds a solid, compacted, uniform system of monarchy; in which all inferior jurisdictions are but as rays diverging from one centre. But on examining it more nearly, you find much eccentricity and confusion. It is not a monarchy in strictness. But, as in the Saxon times this country was an heptarchy, it is now a strange sort of pentarchy. It is divided into five several distinct principalities, besides the supreme. There is indeed this difference from the Saxon times, that as in the itinerant exhibitions of the stage, for want of a complete company, they are obliged to throw a variety of parts on their chief performer; so our sovereign condescends himself to act, not only the principal but all the subordinate parts in the play. He condescends to dissipate the royal character, and to trifle with those light subordinate lacquered sceptres in those hands that sustain the ball repre[C]

« PrejšnjaNaprej »