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which may be ingrafted on others, uniting and simplifying their duties, ought in the first case to be taken away; and in the second, to be consolidated.
obstruct the prospect of the general superintendent of finance; which destroy his superintendency, which disable him from foreseeing and providing for charges as they may occur; from preventing expense in its origin, checking it in its progress, or securing its application to its proper purposes. A minister, under whom expenses can be made without his knowledge, can never say what
it is that he can spend, or what it is that he can save. Fifthly, 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 order
of their utility or their justice. Sixthly, That it is right to reduce every establishment,
and every part of an establishment, (as nearly as possi. ble,) to certainty; the life of all order and good man
agement. Seventhly, 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, di
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 trife with those light, subordinate, lacquered sceptres in those hands that sustain the ball representing the world, or which wield the trident that commands the ocean. Cross a brook, and you lose the king of England; but you have some comfort in coming again under his Majesty, though “ shorn of his beams," and no more than Prince of Wales. Go to the north, and you find him dwindled to a Duke of Lancaster; turn to the west of that north, and he pops upon you in the humble character of Earl of Chester. Travel a few miles on, the Earl of Chester disappears; and the king surprises you again as Count Palatine of Lancaster. If you travel beyond . Mount Edgecombe, you find him once more in his incognito, and he is Duke of Cornwall. So that, quite fatigued and satiated with this dull variety, you are infinitely refreshed when you return to the sphere of his proper splendour, and behold your amiable sovereign in his true, simple, undisguised, native character of majesty.
In every one of these five principalities, duchies, palatinates, there is a regular establishment of considerable expense, and most domineering influence. As his Majesty submits to appear in this state of subordination to himself, his loyal peers and faithful commons attend his royal transformations; and are not so nice as to refuse to nibble at those crumbs of emoluments, which console their petty metamorphoses. Thus every one of those principalities has the apparatus of a kingdom, for the jurisdiction over a few private estates; and the formality and charge of the exchequer of Great Britain, for collecting the rents of a country 'squire. Cornwall is the best of them; but, when you compare the charge with the receipt, you will find that it furnishes no exception to the general rule. The duchy and county
palatine of Lancaster do not yield, as I have reason to believe, on an average of twenty years, four thousand pounds a year clear to the crown. As to Wales, and the county palatine of Chester, I have my doubts whether their productive exchequer yields any returns at all. Yet one may say, that this revenue is more faithfully applied to its purposes than any of the rest; as it exists for the sole purpose of multiplying offices and extending influence.
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 riband, and sent to search for revenues and adventures upon the mountains of Wales. The commission is remark. able; 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 principalities 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 constitutions, and inquisitions, and pensions.
Probert, thus armed, and accoutred—and paid, proceeded on his adventure ; but he was no sooner arrived on the confines of Wales, than all Wales was in arms to meet him. That nation is brave and full 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. Snowden shook to its base; Cader Idris was
loosened from its foundations. The fury of litigious 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, moss-grown 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 resist. ance 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 his. tory 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."
1 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 not. His point was, to show the folly of attempting an improvement of the Welsh revenue under its present establishment.
It is nearly the same with the revenues of the duchy of Lancaster. To do nothing with them is extinction; 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 supplanting 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 others. 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 encumber 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
i Case of Richard Lee, Esq. appellant, against George Venables Lord Vernon, respondent, in the year 1776.