« PreviousContinue »
flic had been invited over, the means of living in affluence and ease.
He stated that the enonomic government of America was peculiarly fitted to the foil where it originated, and did not at all apply to this country. After some other observations, he Concluded with giving his approbation to the original motion.
Mr. Cur-we/i said, " Sir, if the Hon. Gentleman, who has just fat down, had been present on a former day's debate, to which he has alluded, he would have known that I neither did, nor was it ever my intention, to draw a comparison between the Royal Personages he has named. I then said, what I still think, that the lavish expenditure of public money by the royal family of France, lost them the affections of the people, and led the way to all the calamities which have since befallen that unhappy country. The example of France being quoted to us on all occasions, I cannot butregret that the consequences which produced that revolution seem so little attended to. If they had. Sir, we should not have been under the necessity of discussing the present question } and one more pregnant with mischief was never brought forward; and of this opinion there are few, either in or out of this House, who are not agreed. I can view the question in no other light than as it affects the happiness of the country. It dpes not enter my mind to consider the person or his conduct; nor matters it whether one Prince lavished thousands in building a summer-house, or the other squandered them on the plains of Newmarket. 1 wish to see adopted such measures as may avoid the fatal Consequences of the lose of public opinion and affection. For a situation so closely connected with monarchy, Sir, I can neither agree to the plan of the Right Hon. Gentleman, nor with the amendment of the Gentleman near me. Such is the dilemma we are involved in, that we have only the choice of difficulties. Numberless arc the objections to every expedient I have yet heard proposed. I cannot but heartily deprecate the Right Hon. Gentleman, who so solemnly pledged the Royal word, and his being ib shamefully inattentive in looking to the observance of it; had he done his duty, a remedy might have been applied, and means found to have extricated his Royil Highness out of his difficulties, without imposing fresh burdens on the Public, or exposing his Royal Highness's character. Sir, that the country are disinclined, dissatisfied, and unwilling to be charged with one penny on account of the Prince's debts, will not be denied: That a more unfavourable moment than the presents for bringing forward such a charge, could not have been found; labouring, a* the country is, under such accumulated distresses. On the other hand, Vol. III. H h by by refusing to extricate his Royal Highness, you subject him> to insults, which may lessen and disgrace royalty in the opinion of the people, and produce mischiefs of the most dangerous kind. The momentary dissatisfaction of the people, from the payment of the debts, weighs less with me, than the consequences which may result from continuing his Royal Highness in his present embarrassed situation; and I trust, after the first feelings of resentment are over and forgotten, the . country will see it in a disterent point of view. I am therefore, Sir, for the payment of the I'riuce's debts ;. aud shall vote for the larger sum, with a view of forming such a sinking fund, as may, in a reasonable time, liquidate the debt; With this view, tiiould the larger sum be adopted by the House, I shall move, in some subsequent stage of the proceedings, that the sixty-five thousand pounds, and the Dutchy ef Cornwall, be applied to the liquidation of the Prince's debts. On the part of the Prince sacrifices ought and must be made; his Royal Highness ought to relinquish his court, and retire for a season into privacy, there to regain the good, opinion and regard of the people: Little, indeed, is the sacrifice, when compared with that which will be obtained. The interest os the Prince and the people are the same; as he acquires the affections of the people, they gain security; for, without the affection9 os the people, no government is secure. I approve of the commission to inquire into, and settle the debts; I wish a veil to be thrown over them, and that the suture conduct of his Royal Highness may make us forget the past.. I cannot conceive how royalty can in any respect be injured by such a proceeding: On a large calculation, not one thirteenth part of the nation can receive any gratification from the Prince's court; but I am sensible that the relinquishment of it would be felt and acknowledged by every subject in the kingdom. No country, surely, ever afforded such an instance of what personal virtue and integrity can effect: View this reign, commencing with an attack upon the right of elections—proceeding, from step to step, till we lost one quarter of the globe; with a minister so callous to the distresses of the people, that he had the audacity to come forward, with an unblushing front, to Parliament, in the midst of that ruinous and destructive war, for the payment of the King's debts, to the amount of upwards of six hundred thousand pounds, and one hundred thousand pounds to be added to the civil list: And.was it not granted ?—Involved at this moment in a war, the end or consequences of which no one cau pretend to foretel—deprived of the great palladium of liberty, the Habeas Corpus Act—and yet, Sir, uotwithstand
.... ing ing all these events, any one of which, singly, might have overturned any other Government ; yet, see his present Majesty one of the most popular Princes that ever fat upon the throne! Shall we suppose it possible, that the relinquishmerit of the tinsel and frippery of a -court can be attended with any loss of respect to monarchy? can sacrifices for the peopfe produce any other return than affection and regard on their part? If integrity has done so much, what will gratitude not effect, when joined to it? I wish to see his Royal Highness placed in such a situation, that lie may regain what he has lost—a consideration of infinitely more importance. Great as the sum is—considering, Sir, the double situation in which ■his Majesty stands, and the solemn pledge given to this "House—I confess myself much disappointed, that we have had no intimation of his Majesty's intention to come forward, and take upon himself part of the burden. I cannot believe, had the Right Hon. Gentleman acquainted his Majesty with the temper and feelings of the nation, that he would not cheerfully nave evinced his regard and affection for his people, by meeting then- wiflies. It is inconsistent with every principle of justice and policy, that one branch of the Legislature, and that possessed solely of the power of involving us in war, should alone be exempt from sharing th'e burdens and calamities inseparable from it: I think the Throne should be the first to" feel, and the foremost to sacrifice to the distresses of the country; and I verily believe it would not diminish the lustre of the country, to dispense with some of its trappings. Sir, I •do not wilh to hear the advantages of royalty placed upon its being the cheapest form of government; for the assertion is not warranted in truth: The government of America does not, in fact, cost much more than what has been lavished try his Royal Highness alone •, less than two hundred thousand pounds a year, answers every purpose of that government. The attachment of the people of this country to its government, proceeds from the sense of the blessings it has long enjoyed under it, and I trust it will long continue to do. Much as we must lament the misery which has attended the new doctrines introduced into another country, and deprecate them, as they have involved us in the calamities of war, the general result of them will be advantageous to mankind compelling those who govern to be cautious of their conduct, and not to abuse the power they are entrusted with."
Mr. Alderman-Neuinham was very decidedly in favour of the greater sum, and against the amendment. He expatiated with great energy on the necessity of keeping up the dignity and splendour of the Prince of Wales, the Heir Apparent to
H h 2 the the Crown of these realms. The splendour of the Prince of Wales, he asserted, was the splendour of the people of England } and all those who were friends to the monarchical form of government we so happily possessed, ought to be very cautious how they agreed to any measure which might diminish that splendour. Much had been said, he observed, about what had been granted to Frederick Prince of Wales, the father of his present Majesty; but to him it did not appear by any means in point, with respect to the present question. The price of all the articles of provision had so much increased, and the value of money, from the extension of our commerce and manufactures, had been so much depreciated, that money scarcely bore the fourth part of the value now which it did then. It was of the utmost consequence to the peace, happiness, and domestic comfort of the Prince of Wales, that his establishment should be such as in suture to prevent him from accumulating debts, which might draw him into similar embarrassments with those under which he now laboured. It was of equal importance to the country effectually to provide against this; and to accomplish this desirable end, he saw no way so ready and so certain as that of giving his assent to the original motion of granting to his Royal Highness an establishment of one hundted and tirenty-sive thousand pounds a year, exclusive of the revenues of the Dutchy of Cornwall.
JHr. Burden said, that he should vote for the smallest sum, being as much as the country could assord. He thought that twenty-five thousand pounds a year, expended in salaries to Noblemen and Gentlemen in the Prince's suite, should be retrenched. • . .
Mr. Smith stated, that the sums formerly given to a Prince of Wales had been granted out of the civil list. Both George the Second and the late Prince of Wales were married, and bad several children, at the time that their establishment was extended to a hundred thousand pounds; and then the application was made to the King, not to the country for a stalling of it. But the King refused on account of his own numerous issue; and observed, that though the Prince's family was large, his allowance was competent. Besides, the national debt was then forty-eight millions, and the interest but two millions; whereas it was now three hundred millions, aud nine millions of interest, with a continual increase of burden.
In the same reign of George the Second, his Majesty had been urtder the necessity of applying to Parliament for the payment of some arrears which had accrued on the civil lift; and in his message to the Parliament on that occasion, he intimated, that in consideration of that, he should make some
considerable considerable retrenchments and deductions in the expences of the civil list, by lessening and reducing several places and pen7 lions appertaining to the fame. Mr. Smith said he wished a similar conduct had been pursued upon the present occasion i and instead of the burden being thrown entirely on the people, ♦hat it mould haye been borne by those who were much better able to struggle under its weight. •,
Mr. Smith professed himself as true a friend to the monarchy as any Member of thut House; but he thought .that splendour and dignity had been confounded in the course qf • the debate; splendour might indeed sometimes add to dignity, but on other occasions, as en the present, dignity might be most effectually consulted by an abatement os splendour; there were many offices in the households, both of the M"r narch and the Prince of Wales, which, while they were highly honourable in themselves, lost much of their dignity by the persons holding them receiving the salaries they did.—These offices were held by Noblemen of the first distinction, and who were styled in the civil list Menial Servants of the Crown, or of the Prince. He had not the smallest doubt Li his mind but that the first Dukes and Lords in the land, really deemed it an honour, and felt the highest pleasure, in being constantly about the person of their Sovereign, and being continually receiving the gratification of his daily converse and personal regards—but when he contemplated those Noble Personages in the character of a Master of the Horse, oraLord of jheiledchamber, he Could not conceive that they derived additional dignity to their characters, or that their services reflected additional dignity on the Crown, from their receiving, severally one or two thousand a year for the services they performed. On the contrary, he thought that every Nobleman who held any of the great offices of state, would possess and justly entitle himself to real dignity in the minds of the people, who . would fay to themselves and to the Public when they accepted their office, "I am proud to serve my King and my country in thi9 truly honourable station, but as a Nobleman of great fortune, and thereby a truly independtnt wan, I disdain to accept of any emoluments of office, because my fortune being great, I think my refusal to accept them will reflect more real splendour and dignity on the office I hold, and on the Monarch who confers it, than can possibly result from my receiving annual wages for the performance of that duty which is held out to the world, as reflecting honour on me who perform it, and splendour on him who confers its duties upon roe."
There was only one point more, Mr. Smith said, on which he would trouble the House, and that was, lhat it at once surf prised