Page images

The Civil List.

the difference is considerably more than Half a Million. But, in contrasting the expenditure of the two sovereigns, it ought to be borne in mind that the late king was liable to many outgoings, from which his successor is exempted. Of this nature were a large family—the iminense sums expended in the improvement of Windsor-castle-the charge of furnishing and decorating the apartments in the palaces for the princesses--their removal to and from Windsor, estimated at £20,000 the journeys to Weyniouth and furnishing apartments in Kensington-palace for the Princess of Wales; all wbich tended to swell the royal expenditure in the seven years selected for comparison.

We conclude, therefore, that the Civil List is the proper place at which retrenchment ought to begin; and that, by a reduction of salaries in the household, and other economical arrangements, a saving of half a million might be made, without reducing the dignity and splendour of the crown below the standard of the latest period of the government of George III. On this statement, drawn from papers laid before parliament, in 1816, it is unnecessary to comment. The injustice of pouncing on a few poor clerks, while the great leviathan of expense remains uncurtailed, is apparent. The truth is, as before observed, ministers have no wish to retrench ; it is not their policy to do so, and their attempts that way are mere delusion, as must be evident from their passing over in silence the profusion we have exposed. While, however, a reduction in the public expenditure is clearly the only means by which all classes can support their diminished income, one cannot suppose the enormous gulph of the Civil List will remain unexplored. Both parties, for obvious reasons, have shown a reluctance to bring the subject before parliament; for it is by indulging the king in a lavish expenditure that the powers that be, and the powers that wish to be,' hope to be gratified. The country, however, has another interest, and it is right it should be made acquainted with it.

When the Civil List is under discussion, it is usual to observe statements in the Treasury Papers, showing how small a proportion of the sum granted under this head is expended in the maintenance of the king and his household. It ought, however, to be remembered that the extraneous branches of expenditure were separated from the Civil List in 1816, and the present amount is appropriated almost exclusively to the support of the royal diguity. The sum applied to this purpose may be classed under the following heads. First, his majesty's privy purse. The sum set apart for this object under the late king was £60,000 ; his successor (there being no Prince of Wales) receives, in addition, the revenues of the duchies of

[ocr errors]

The Civil List.

Lancaster and Cornwall; the former about f 10,000, the latter, £15,000, or £25,000 a year jointly; besides £6000 payable out of certain colonial funds, making the total allowance for the privy purse £91,000. This sum is considered the king's private property, not applicable either to household expenses nor any public object; it is the royal pocket or pin money:-a foolish thing unknown till the late reign, and appears to have been originally intended to gratify a puerile avarice in George III. To the king's privy purse may be added the bills of his majesty's tradesmen, the disbursements in the departments of the lord chamberlain, lord steward, &c. and the sum of £65,000, payable out of the Consolidated Fund, in discharge of the king's debts while prince of Wales. The total individual expenses hi majesty may be stated as follows :

$. d. Privý purse

91,000 0 For the payment of the king's debts

65,000 0 Tradesmen's bills

209,000 0 0 Salaries &c. in the lord steward's department . 41,866 10 Ditto in the lord chamberlain's

59,062 0 8 Department of the master of the horse

27,743 00 Department of the master of the robes

1,080 0 0 Surveyor-general of works

10,946 6 5

[ocr errors]


505,697 16 11

With the exception of the two first sums, the remainder are taken from the estimates of lord Castlereagh, in 1816.

The total exhibits the expense of a King. We shall make no reflections, institute no invidious

compa risons with the United States, nor compare the few sentences dropped at the opening and close of every session with the exposition of the American President, nor surmise for a moment whether the country would be better or worse supposing we had no King at all; his expenditure applied to relieve public distress, and the Government carried on, both in name and reality, by his ministers.

“ When we see (says Rabelais) the print of Garagantua, that has a mouth as large as an oven, and swallows at one meal twelve hundred pounds of bread, twenty oxen, a hundred sheep, six hundred fowls, fifteeen hundred horses, two thousand quails, a thousand barrels of wine, six hundred peaches, &c. &c. who does not say That is the mouth of a King?"

The subject of the revenue of the crown is far from being exhausted,and indeed it is not easy to give a clear view of the various branches of the royal expen

The Civil List.

diture. The Civil List allowance, as settled last session agreeably to the extravagant estimate of 1816, is £ 1,062,011; half of which is expended as above, the remainder in salaries and allowances, and in the payment of a class of pensions limited by 22 Geo. III. to £95,000. In this expenditure is not included pensions to the royal family, amounting last year to £327,066. Besides which is another gross item called Civil List Con. tingencies, of uncertain amount, consisting of charges for repairs of public buildings, presents to foreign ministers, and the King's travelling and sailing expenses : all these sums form what may be properly called the Civil List Expenditure. In 1817, parliament voted £500,000 for Civil List Contingencies; and in 1818, £700,000; in later years £300,000; what has been the cost of the Irish and German excursions is not yet ascertained.

We shall conclude this subject with observing, that it is impossible to give a complete statement either of the total income or expenditure of the Crown. Many funds, some of which we shall shortly explain, neither their amount nor disbursement are considered within the cognizance of parliament, and are at the uncontrolled disposal of Ministers, to be lavished on their friends and supporters. And though parliament votes a fixed sum for the Civil List, yet, when this is exceeded, it is always ready to discharge arrears that may have accumulated by new grants ; so that, virtually, there is no limit to the royal expenditure. The sums voted for the Civil List, in the last reign, amounted to 59 millions ; but then the debts of the king, amounting to betwixt 8 and 9 millions, were discharged nine times. The way in which these debts had been incurred could not always be ascertained from the manner the subject was brought before parliament. We will give an instance. In 1777, during the American war, the king's debts amounted to £618,000; papers were produced containing a disguised statement how this incumbrance had been incurred : vast sums were expended in' secret service money, and half a million was stated under the head of the board of works: but then, as Mr. Belsham observes, no one could tell on what palace, garden, or park, the money had been laid out. In short, there is too much reason to suppose, that the debts of the last reign were mainly contracted in support of the system of war and injustice in which ministers were engaged in obtaining the baneful influence which silences all opposition, which has swept away all traces of public liberty, and laid the foundation of present distress and embarrassment.

It sometimes happens that money is voted for one object and applied to another: thus, in 1812, £100,000 was voted to the Regent as an outfit; which, instead of being so applied was appropriated to the liquidation of the

The Civil List.

to prince's debts, and the public called upon for a new grant, on the pretext of de defraying the expense of furniture at Brighton. Again, when the subject

happens to be unpopular, a sum is asked much less than necessary; and the deficiency made up from other sources. Thus, last year, Ministers

asked only £100,000 to defray the expense of the coronation, a sum vastly ( inadequate; and the public probably will never be acquainted with the real o cost of that ceremony, the deficiency being made up from these secret and i uncontrolled funds we are going to expose. C i

Hereditary Revenues.

! Under this head is included the portion of the ancient revenues still rei maining at the disposal of the Crown : namely, the property of persons

dying intestate without heirs, the produce of the Scotch hereditary revenue, * the Droits of Admiralty, the Leeward Island and Gibraltar duties, the & income of bishoprics during vacancies, with some other items of smaller i amount. The average yearly produce of these funds, during the late #reign, independent of the Civil List Allowance, was £200,000; part

of which sum was paid into the privy purse, 'part applied to defray the debts 1 of the Civil List, and a considerable proportion devoted to parliamentary

corruption, to the payment of pensions and gratuities to members, their I wives, daughters, sisters, and other connexions.

On the demise of the King, and the old Civil List contract having expired, a fair opportunity presented for abstracting these immense funds from

the grasp of the Executive and placing them under the control of parliament. # Why, indeed, should they continue in the hands of Ministers ? Every

branch of the public service is provided for from other sources; the king has his Civil List, supplies are voted for the army and navy, no salary high or low but there is some fund for its discharge. What then could ministers want with the Admiralty Droits or the West India duty? To what useful purpose could they apply the property of the English sailor and the Barbadoes planter? Even granting that pensions and gratuities are sometimes necessary to reward meritorious services, had the “ Collective Wisdom” ever shown any reluctance to vote ample sums for these purposes ? Had they been niggardly in their rewards to a Nelson or a Wellington ? Indeed, it is clear there was no good reason for the retention of these funds, and that they were intended for objects very different from the reward of public services. The nature of these services it will be proper to illustrate, as, by the me

[ocr errors]

The Civil List.

morable decision of last session, the Hereditary Revenues remain at the mercy of ministers; and thus did the new reign auspiciously commence with a virtual addition of half a million to the Civil List and all the old machinery of parliamentary corruption. The subject was partly exposed in the Black Book, but since then other revenues of the Crown have been brought to light, and, to complete what is there said, it will be necessary briefly to recapitulate the different funds now at the disposal of Administration.

The first and most important of which are the Droits of Admiralty. This fund, as the reader may remember, arises principally from the sale of the enemy's ships, taken before a formal declaration of war. From 1793 to 1818 it produced between eight and nine millions; and formed, during the late war, and perhaps was one cause of its continuance, an inexhaustible mine for relieving the necessities of royalty, and supporting ministerial profusion. Besides applications to these objects, there were other disbursements from this fund still less creditable, and one of which is very remark. able. It relates to the famous smuggling voyage of sir Home Popham. This gallant officer entered various investments outwards, in a ship called Etrusco, commanded by sir Home, and bound from one of the ports of Italy to the East Indies. Captain Robinson, appointed on that station for the prevention of smuggling, seized the vessel and her cargo, value £25,000, being contraband or smuggled goods, was condemned as good and lawful prize. Dr. Lushington having mored for various papers relative to this transaction, it appeared, by a warrant of the Treasury, signed Mr. Charles Long and others, as lords of the Treasury, that the loss of £25,000 sustained by captain Popham, in smuggling, was made up to him by a grant of the same sum out of the Droits of Admiralty: When all the documents relative to the affair were upon the table of the house, and Mr. C. Long and sir Home Popham, being both members, were present, Dr. Lushing. ton moved, “ That sir Home Popham, in being detected in knowingly carrying on an illegal traffic, had acted in contempt of the laws of bais country, contrary to the duty of a British subject, and to the disgrace of the character of a British officer; and, further, that the grant of £25,000 by Mr. Long to him out of the Droits of Admiralty, had been a gross mis-application of the public money.” After solemn debate on this question, not a single fact being denied or disputed, the Guardians of the Public Purse' fully acquitted sir Home Popham and Mr. Long of all blame, by a majority of 126 to 57.1mm. When," says the author of the “ Guide to Electors,” “ one member of parliament can thus give to another such a sum of money as

« PreviousContinue »