Page images

property to those that are. The buyer and seller must mutually profit by such a bargain; and, what rarely happens in matters of revenue, the relief of the subject will go hand in hand with the profit of the Exchequer.

As to the forest lands, in which the crown has (where they are not granted or prescriptively held) the dominion of the soil, and the vert and venison, that is to say, the timber and the game, and in which the people have a variety of rights, in common of herbage, and other commons, according to the usage of the several forests, I propose to have those rights of the crown valued as manorial rights are valued on an inclosure, and a defined portion of land to be given for them, which land is to be sold for the public benefit.

[ocr errors]

As to the timber, I propose a survey of the whole. What is useless for the naval purposes of the kingdom I would condemn and dispose of for the secu rity of what may be useful, and to inclose such other parts as may be most fit to furnish a perpetual supply, wholly extinguishing, for a very obvious reason, all right of venison in those parts.

The forest rights which extend over the lands and possessions of others, being of no profit to the crown, and a grievance, as far as it goes, to the subject,— these I propose to extinguish without charge to the proprietors. The several commons are to be allotted and compensated for, upon ideas which I shall hereafter explain. They are nearly the same with the principles upon which you have acted in private inclosures. I shall never quit precedents, where I find them applicable. For those regulations and compensations, and for every other part of the detail, you

will be so indulgent as to give me credit for the present.

The revenue to be obtained from the sale of the forest lands and rights will not be so considerable, I believe, as many people have imagined; and I conceive it would be unwise to screw it up to the utmost, or even to suffer bidders to enhance, according to their eagerness, the purchase of objects wherein the expense of that purchase may weaken the capital to be employed in their cultivation. This, I am well aware, might give room for partiality in the disposal. In my opinion it would be the lesser evil of the two. But I really conceive that a rule of fair preference might be established, which would take away all sort of unjust and corrupt partiality. The principal revenue which I propose to draw from these uncultivated wastes is to spring from the improvement and population of the kingdom,-which never can happen without producing an improvement more advantageous to the revenues of the crown than the rents of the best landed estate which it can hold. I believe, Sir, it will hardly be necessary for me to add, that in this sale I naturally except all the houses, gardens, and parks belonging to the crown, and such one forest as shall be chosen by his Majesty as best accommodated to his pleasures.

By means of this part of the reform will fall the expensive office of surveyor-general, with all the influence that attends it. By this will fall two chief-justices in Eyre, with all their train of dependants. You need be under no apprehension, Sir, that your office is to be touched in its emoluments. They are yours by law; and they are but a moderate part of the compensation which is given to you for the ability with which

you execute an office of quite another sort of importance it is far from overpaying your diligence, or more than sufficient for sustaining the high rank you stand in as the first gentleman of England. As to the duties of your chief-justiceship, they are very different from those for which you have received the office. Your dignity is too high for a jurisdiction over wild beasts, and your learning and talents too valuable to be wasted as chief-justice of a desert. I cannot reconcile it to myself, that you, Sir, should be stuck up as a useless piece of antiquity.

I have now disposed of the unprofitable landed estates of the crown, and thrown them into the mass of private property; by which they will come, through the course of circulation, and through the political secretions of the state, into our better understood and better ordered revenues.

[ocr errors]

I come next to the great supreme body of the civil government itself. I approach it with that awe and reverence with which a young physician approaches to the cure of the disorders of his parent. Disorders, Sir, and infirmities, there are, such disorders, that all attempts towards method, prudence, and frugality will be perfectly vain, whilst a system of confusion remains, which is not only alien, but adverse to all economy; a system which is not only prodigal in its very essence, but causes everything else which belongs to it to be prodigally conducted.

It is impossible, Sir, for any person to be an economist, where no order in payments is established; it is impossible for a man to be an economist, who is not able to take a comparative view of his means and of his expenses for the year which lies before him; it is impossible for a man to be an economist, under

whom various officers in their several departments may spend even just what they please, and often.

with an emulation of expense, as contributing to the importance, if not profit, of their several departments. Thus much is certain: that neither the present nor any other First Lord of the Treasury has been ever able to take a survey, or to make even a tolerable guess, of the expenses of government for any one year, so as to enable him with the least degree of certainty, or even probability, to bring his affairs within compass. Whatever scheme may be formed upon them must be made on a calculation of chances. As things are circumstanced, the First Lord of the Treasury cannot make an estimate. I am sure I serve the king, and I am sure I assist administration, by putting economy at least in their power. We must class services; we must (as far as their nature admits) appropriate funds; or everything, however reformed, will fall again into the old confusion.

Coming upon this ground of the civil list, the first thing in dignity and charge that attracts our notice is the royal household. This establishment, in my opinion, is exceedingly abusive in its constitution. It is formed upon manners and customs that have long since expired. In the first place, it is formed, in many respects, upon feudal principles. In the feudal times, it was not uncommon, even among subjects, or the lowest offices to be held by considerable persons, persons as unfit by their incapacity as improper from their rank to occupy such employments. They were held by patent, sometimes for life, and sometimes by inheritance. If my memory does not deceive me, a person of no slight consideration held the office of patent hereditary cook to an Earl of Warwick:

the Earl of Warwick's soups, I fear, were not the better for the dignity of his kitchen. I think it was an Earl of Gloucester who officiated as steward of the household to the Archbishops of Canterbury. Instances of the same kind may in some degree be found in the Northumberland house-book, and other family records. There was some reason in ancient necessities for these ancient customs. Protection was wanted; and the domestic tie, though not the highest, was the closest.

The king's household has not only several strong traces of this feudality, but it is formed also upon the principles of a body corporate: it has its own magis trates, courts, and by-laws. This might be necessary in the ancient times, in order to have a government within itself, capable of regulating the vast and often unruly multitude which composed and attended it. This was the origin of the ancient court called the Green Cloth, composed of the marshal, treasurer, and other great officers of the household, with certain clerks. The rich subjects of the kingdom, who had formerly the same establishments, (only on a reduced scale,) have since altered their economy, and turned the course of their expense from the maintenance of vast establishments within their walls to the employment of a great variety of independent trades abroad. Their influence is lessened; but a mode of accommodation and a style of splendor suited to the manners of the times has been increased. Royalty itself has insensibly followed, and the royal household has been carried away by the resistless tide of manners, but with this very material difference: private men have got rid of the establishments along with the reasons of them; whereas the royal household has lost all

« PreviousContinue »