Page images

prised and grieved him, that no advice had been given to hre Majesty, Ot at least that no intimation had been given by him, that he was ready and willing to bear any part of the burden of paying the Prince's debts. He wished, for the fake of the dignity and splendour of the monarchy, that this had been done j but as it had not, the best and safest way that he knew of, was to vote such an establishment as should prevent the Prince from incurring future debts, and that would decidedly weigh with him to support the original motion, and vote against the amendment.

Mr. Fox said, that censcious what he felt it his duty to fay would be acceptable neither to the Crown, the Prince of Wales, nor the majority of the House, or of the country, he could have no particular inducement to be very forward in troubling the Committee with his opinion. Yet, notwithstanding, he should not relax in the conscientious discharge of that duty he was bound to perform. His Majesty, he was assured, was above considering improperly any thing stated in that House, although what he was about to state, he was aware, would neither be agreeable to the Court nor to the Prince: Nor should he perhaps concur even with any of his friends in that House, or with the majority of the Members present, or the Public at large. It was undoubtedly necessary to support tlie splendour of the Crown as an essential part of the constitution; but he did not understand calling it, as it had been called, the centre of the constitution- The Crown was dear to every man who loved the constitution, but not dearer than other parts of it, not dearer than the House of Commons, the popular branch of the constitution. To the chief magistrate in all governments, republics as well as monarchies, a certain degree of splendour was necessary. He never could desire to subvert those systems which had the approbation of experience in every country and every age. The ancient republics were convinced how requisite splendour was to dignify their government, and lend authority to their proceedings, and the late transactions of a modern republic were in some manner anomalous. This was a point clear from the history and practice of all governments, but subject to modification, as circumstances might require. Theiewere cases in which the dignity of the Crown might be better upheld by relinquishing part of its accustomed splendour than by a strict adherence to it. The Right Hon. Gentleman (Mr. Pitt), he remarked, had produced but one question, which comprehended the whole of the important business under discussion. He therefore took a view of the general subject before he specifically examined the question itself. Much had been said os the establishments of

former former Princes of Wales as precedents. Sorry he was that he could not look to those precedents as the most creditable part of the history of the House of Brunswick. The establishment of George II. when Prince of Wales, had been a mere matter of party; how much more that of his son Frederick Prince of Wales? For George II. when Prince of Wales* 50,0001. was deemed ample provision, and how much more was allowed to Frederick, the father of his present Majesty? 50,0001. was deemed ample provilion for him too for many years, although he had a family of four children, and consequently an increased household; yet afterwards this was suddenly doubled, and ioo.oool. was granted; 6o,oool. a year when he happened to differ in political opinion from his Majesty's ministers, and ico,oool. when he afterwards agreed with them. He had too much respect for the memory of that Prince, to impute to him motives inconsistent with the honour of his high station, inconsistent with the honour of any private gentleman; but the circumstance gave room to suspicions in the country, as injurious in their tendency to the Prince as to the people, for mutual respect and confidence were necessary to the interests of both. What he deprecated on the present occasion, Mr. Fox said, was a conduct on the part of the House that might expose any Prince of Wales to such suspicions. Let all men fee that they meant to be guided only by the actual principles of the cafe, and not by regard to the individual; and here he must lament the whole conduct of Government with respect to the establishment of his Royal Highness. AVhen an allowance of 50,0001. a year in addition to the Dutchy of Cornwall was proposed, he thougiit it insufficient. Why then, it would be asked, being one of his Majesty's ministers at the time, did he concur in that allowance?

cause it was then an experiment, and great deference was due to the opinion of his Majesty, who gave the whole sum out of the civil list, without calling for the aid of Patliament, and thought that it would be sufficient. A few yenrs after, other ministers advised his Majesty to apply to Parliament to exonerate the civil list from this allowance to the Prince. In 1787 an Hon. Magistrate (Alderman Newnham) brought the subject again before Parliament, when provision was made for paying the debts of his Royal Highness, and io,oool. a year was added to his income. This was no new experiment, but the result of au experiment already made. He then thought 6o,oool. a year in addition to the Dutchy of Cornwall an insufficient allowance; but his mouth was stopped by the terms of the King's Message, conveying very clearly both the King's


opinion of its insufficiency, be

opmion opinion and the Prince's, that it would be sufficient. The declaration of his Royal Highness, that he Would give no occa-. hon for any future application to Parliament on a Gmilar account, surprised him not a little. He knew not who had advised him to make such a declaration; but if his Royal Highness at any subsequent period had consulted him upon the subject, he would have said, that being made it was a promise which for his honour he was bound to keep. It was, however, the opinion of ministers, and of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in particular, whose duty it more immediately was. to form a correct opinion, that 60,oool. a year, in addition to the Dutchy of Cornwall, was sufficient for the splendour of the, Prince of Wales at twenty-five, and for reinstating his household, which he had dismisled. Upon what principle then, did they at this time pretend to fay that i2$,oool. a year was necessary? Marriage in the lower classes of life made a greatdifference in point of expence, but did it in anything like the fame proportion among the higher ranks? His Royal Highness before his marriage had a house and a household; did his marriage require two houses and two households? How then was it possible for those who in 1787 said that 73,0001. a year was sufficient for his expences in Carlson House when he was single, to fay 138,0001. must be necessary now? He could not but lament that the fame conduct seemed to be adopted with respect to the establishment of his Royal Highness as had taken place with respect to that of Frederick Prince of Wales; that ministers measured the extent of his allowance by die degree of approbation he bestowed upon their system of government-; and that the House, following them, was to be guided, not byprinciple, but by circumstances of a very different nature. It might be asked, whether he did not feel such a difference as he supposed ministers to feel? lie would answer, that he did not; that he had never considered his Royal Highness in any other point of view than as the Heir Apparent to the Throne; that he hml never looked to his opinions, but to his station. He might then be alked, whether he, who had always thought the former allowances to his Roynl Highness insufficient, would not now vote for the larger sum, in preference to the" amendment moved by his Hon. Friend? Undoubtedly he Would, and for the reasons he had stated on former occasions, but not without some provision for preventing such applicationa to Parliament in suture. The difference betweetl the present value of money, and the value of it when I'ooybooh was «n adequate provision for Princes of Wale's, required at least tin addition of one fourth. He should be answered, that the increase of public debts and public- burirettg -made the"

» 'country country less able to bear large establishments. He admitted and lamented the increased and increasing burdens of the country; but with increase of public debts, let the increase of public means to provide for them be taken into consideration.

Let Gentlemen look to what he wished ministers had looked to in 1787, the increased habits of expence in all ranks, and the difference of one fourth would certainly not appear to keep pace with it. His Hon Friend who moved the amendment, spoke of the evil tendency of such habits; but was the Prince of Wales the first example they would choose to select for reform, and, in some sort, for punishment? Suppose some person of the same rank and situation in some country undiscovered had indulged himself in similar excesses, who would call down reprobation on him? He was the Heir Apparent in early life, when his age, his situation, the times, habits, and manners, all conspired to make him fall into that evil they lamented. He remembered to have heard a lady, as weak and as frail as the frailest of her sex, say, not ludicrously, but seriously, "I am conscious of my faults; but I hope I atone for them by my marked disapprobation of such faults in others." It would ill become him to be very pointed in his disapprobation of imprudent expence in others; but he would fay to the City, to Westminster, to the Public at large, w If you complain of increased habits of expence, begin the reformation by reforming yourselves." Reference might be made to the liberality of Parliament, to other Princes, to the Crown itself. Whatever they might say about the distinctness and separate interests of the three branches of the Legislature, and their independence of one another, it could not be dissembled that the Crown having the disposal of all offices civil and military, with the collection of near twenty millions of revenue, must possess great influence in that House. Would it then be seemly to yield to every extravagance of the Crown, but act harshly and austerely towards a Prince who had no such influence r Something on this occasion might have been expected from the civil list. Queen Anne, from a civil list of 6oo,oool. gave ioo,oool. towards the support of a war. George I. out of 700,0001. a year gave 1 oo,oool. for the establishment of his heir; and George II. the fame sum for the establishment of Frederick Prince of Wales. During the American war, when the country was not certainly in a state of prosperity, Parliament paid a large debt for the civil list, and added to it ioo,oool. a year. The sum appropriated to the privy purse had been gradually increased from 36,000 to 6o,oool. a year •, why then refuse a proportionate increase to the establishment os the Prince of Wales? These arguments Vot. III. li he

he had formerly stated to the House without much effect ) and if they produced any effect now, it would be from th*ir bting enforced by superior eloquence and superior talei.ts.

.With the establishment, unfortunately, the business did not <nd. There were dcLts, as skated, of his Royal Highness, to she amount of <$2o,oool. and other debts for which he wa» bound. The latter, he understood, much to the honour of those who had contracted them, were already in a course of payment. Bur, supposing the creditors to think the mode of ptyraent too slow, they might call upon the Prince for payment, a* vrell as his own creditors, and, therefore, to relieve htm from Iris embarrassments, if to do so was intended, these debts must be put upon the fame fooling as his own.—Hence af«fe two questions—Was the Prince well advised in applying to that House on the subject of his debts, after the promise jrwde in .1787; or the minister justified in making any proposal for liquidating them without some engagement on tlie part os his Royal Highness which might be relied upon as ar feuurity against suture calls of the fame kind? To both these questions: he must give a decided negative: And therefore he Would consider only what was a proper establishment for the Prince, without noticing his debts. Here again, a new consideration interposed, viz. that os the Princess of Wales, who had been invited over by the unanimous consent of Parliament and the country, and for whom the House, by its Add/resses, stood pledged to make a suitable provision. It was in v.ain to pretend, that the House was not aware of the embarrassments of his Royal Highness at the time they gave that pledge; not one of them but knew the fact, although not regularly informed of it by a mt st age from his fciijesty. For this reason only he would afent to a plan /or relieving his Royal IIighnes$ from those embarrassments, but riot without an absolute sinking fund, for liquidating the debt within a reasonable time. The Right Hon. Gentleman proposed appropriating 2j,0Ool. a year for the payment of the interest, at spur per cent, although1 interest was at five per cent, and the income of the Dutcby of Cornwall to liquidate.the principal, which, according to this plan, would be discharged in about twenty-seven years. Was this a plan that any man could propose seriously? Rather let the House own that they did not rncan to pay off tlie debt, than hold out such a mockery.. Their doty to tV.e Prince and to the Public w«M the same, for in consulting his dignity, .they consulted the public interest. IJut,in. what way would, hie dignity be best preserved? JJy splendour of hit cstabWllment, hi*creditors unpwd,/K tyJW&t apaii syYhiaportioi «£;it;a£,weuld liquidate

-{ ... his

« PreviousContinue »