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An attempt was lately made to improve this branch of local influence, and to transfer it to the fund of general corruption. I have on the seat behind me the constitution of Mr. John Probert, a knight-errant dubbed by the noble lord in the blue ribbon, and sent to search for revenues and adventures apon the mountains of Wales. The commission is remarkable, and the event not less so. The commission sets forth, that,“ upon a report of the deputy-auditor (for there is a deputy-auditor)“ of the Principality of Wales, it appeared that his Majesty's land revenues in the said principality are greatly diminished”;and “that upon a report of the surveyor-general of his Majesty's land revenues, upon a memorial of the auditor of his Majesty's revenues, within the said principality, that his mines and forests have produced very little profit either to the public revenue or to individuals”; — and therefore they appoint Mr. Probert, with a pension of three hundred pounds a year from the said principality, to try whether he can make anything more of that very little which is stated to be so greatly diminished. “A beggarly account of empty boxes.” And yet, Sir, you will remark, that this diminution from littleness (which serves only to prove the infinite divisibility of matter) was not for want of the tender and officious care (as we see) of surveyors general and surveyors particular, of auditors and deputy auditors,—not for want of memorials, and remon strances, and reports, and commissions, and consti tutions, and inquisitions, and pensions.
Probert, thus armed, and accoutred,—and paid,proceeded on his adventure; but he was no soone) arrived on the confines of Wales than all Wales was in arms to meet him. That nation is brave and fuk
of spirit. Since the invasion of King Edward, and the massacre of the bards, there never was such a tumult and alarm and uproar through the region of Prestatyn. Snowdon shook to its base; Cader-Idris was loosened from its foundations. The fury of li tigious war blew her horn on the mountains. The rocks poured down their goatherds, and the deep caverns vomited out their miners. Everything above ground and everything under ground was in arms.
In short, Sir, to alight from my Welsh Pegasus, and to come to level ground, the Preux Chevalier Probert went to look for revenue, like his masters upon other occasions, and, like his masters, he found rebellion. But we were grown cautious by experience. A civil war of paper might end in a more serious war; for now remonstrance met remonstrance, and memorial was opposed to memorial. The wise Britons thought it more reasonable that the poor, wasted, decrepit revenue of the principality should die a natural than a violent death. In truth, Sir, the attempt was no less an affront upon the understanding of that respectable people than it was an attack on their property. They chose rather that their ancient, mossgrown castles should moulder into decay, under the silent touches of time, and the slow formality of an oblivious and drowsy exchequer, than that they should be battered down all at once by the lively efforts of a pensioned engineer. As it is the fortune of the noble lord to whom the auspices of this campaign belonged frequently to provoke resistance, so it is his rule and nature to yield to that resistance in all cases whatsoever. He was true to himself on this occasion. He submitted with spirit to the spirited remonstrances of the Welsh. Mr. Probert gave up his adventure, and
keeps his pension; and so ends “the famous history of the revenue adventures of the bold Baron North and the good Knight Probert upon the mountains of Venodotia."
In such a state is the exchequer of Wales at present, that, upon the report of the Treasury itself, its little revenue is greatly diminished; and we see, by the whole of this strange transaction, that an attempt to improve it produces resistance, the resistance produces submission, and the whole ends in pension.*
It is nearly the same with the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster. To do nothing with them is
xtinction; to improve them is oppression. Indeed, the whole of the estates which support these minor principalities is made up, not of revenues, and rents, and profitable fines, but of claims, of pretensions, of vexations, of litigations. They are exchequers of unfrequent receipt and constant charge: a system of finances not fit for an economist who would be rich, not fit for a prince who would govern his subjects with equity and justice.
It is not only between prince and subject that these mock jurisdictions and mimic revenues produce great mischief. They excite among the people a spirit of informing and delating, a spirit of supplant. ing and undermining one another : so that many, in such circumstances, conceive it advantageous to them rather to continue subject to vexation themselves than to give up the means and chance of vexing oth
* Here Lord North shook his head, and told those who sat near him that Mr. Probert's pension was to depend on his success. It may be so. Mr. Probert's pension was, however, no essential part of the question; nor did Mr. B. care whether he still possessed it or
His point was, to show the ridicule of attempting an improve ment of the Welsh revenue under its present establishment.
ers. It is exceedingly common for men to contract their love to their country into an attachment to its petty subdivisions; and they sometimes even cling to their provincial abuses, as if they were franchises and local privileges. Accordingly, in places where there is much of this kind of estate, persons will be always found who would rather trust to their talents in recommending themselves to power for the renewal of their interests, than to incumber their purses, though never so lightly, in order to transmit independence to their posterity. It is a great mistake, that the desire of securing property is universal among mankind. Gaming is a principle inherent in human nature. It belongs to us all. I would therefore break those tables ; I would furnish no evil occupation for that spirit. I would make every man look everywhere, except to the intrigue of a court, for the improvement of his circumstances or the security of his fortune. I have in my eye a very strong case in the Duchy of Lancaster (which lately occupied Westminster Hall and the House of Lords) as my voucher for many of these reflections. *
For what plausible reason are these principalities suffered to exist ? When a government is rendered complex, (which in itself is no desirable thing,) it ought to be for some political end which cannot be answered otherwise. Subdivisions in government are only admissible in favor of the dignity of inferior princes and high nobility, or for the support of an aristocratic confederacy under some head, or for the conservation of the franchises of the people in some privileged province. For the two former of these
* Case of Richard Lee, Esq., appellant, against George Venables Lord Vernon, respondent, in the year 1776.
ends, such are the subdivisions in favor of the electoral and other princes in the Empire ; for the latter of these purposes are the jurisdictions of the Imperial cities and the Hanse towns. For the latter of these ends are also the countries of the States (Pays d'États) and certain cities and orders in France. These are all regulations with an object, and some of them with a very good object. But how are the principles of any of these subdivisions applicable in the case before us?
Do they answer any purpose to the king? The Principality of Wales was given by patent to Edward the Black Prince on the ground on which it has since stood. Lord Coke sagaciously observes upon it, " That in the charter of creating the Black Prince Edward Prince of Wales there is a great mystery : for less than an estate of inheritance so great a prince could not have, and an absolute estate of inheritance in so great a principality as Wales (this principality being so dear to him, he should not have ; and therefore it was made sibi et heredibus suis regibus Anglice, that by his decease, or attaining to the crown, it might be extinguished in the crown."
For the sake of this foolish mystery, of what a great prince could not have less and should not have so much, of a principality which was too dear to be given and too great to be kept, -and for no other cause that ever I could find, - this form and shadow of a princi
a pality, without any substance, has been maintained. That you may judge in this instance (and it serves for the rest) of the difference between a great and a little economy, you will please to recollect, Sir, that Wales may be about the tenth part of England in size and population, and certainly not a hundredth