Page images
PDF
EPUB

Introduction.

game played by the rival parties; the king being the occasional umpire and the People the prize.

IV.The Dangers of Reform.

This is so trite a subject of delusion that the sophistry of it hardly needs exposing, and I should not notice it at all, were it not to point out an advantage the Reformers derive over their Opponents from the present state of the country. It is constantly urged against Reform, that it might involve in the accomplishment changes which even the authors can only imperfectly foresee and appreciate. This, at the worst,

is only a speculatire danger, a mere contingent evil, which Į might or might not happen. But the evils to be removed by

reform are of a different character; they are not speculative, they are real and practical, to be seen and felt every where. Clearly, then, the Reformers have the better of the argument. If their remedy be doubtful, the disease is certain : with their prescription there would be hope; without it, ruin seems inevitable. Who, then, ought to be termed speculators and theorists? Certainly, those who reject a remedy at least probable, rather than risk an imaginary danger.

But the real question at issue has long rested on reasoning much less refined. Reformers and No-Reformers are actuated by similar motives of interest-with this difference, that the

former demand only what is just, while the latter seek to hold by }

force what they have no right to possess. To many Reform would certainly be ruin; there would then be real retrenchment; without it we can only expect delusion and subterfuge. To reform and to retrench are synonymous, and it is immaterial which takes precedency, as both lead to the same result. If reform goes first, retrenchment comes of course'; and if retrenchment take the lead, reform would follow, as there would be neither the power nor the motives to resist it. In a lavish expenditure consists the strength of Corruption; it is (if I may so say) the ammuni

tion of the system, without which it cannot be defended and d

the enemy kept at a distance. Ministers understand this well d

enough : they know that to retrench effectually and to reform are virtually the same. They have no aversion to reform in itself, no more than the profligate have to the practice of virtue, only they do not like to make the sacrifice which reform

[ocr errors]

Introduction.

requires. We are told they spend nearly five millions in the management of the revenue, and they have a standing army to defend them of a hundred thousand men. These things look enormous and unreasonable, but they are not too much, and I really wonder that they have been able to carry on so long, with such slender means, amidst a numerous and enlightened population.

Necessity is the only principle which will compel them to retreach ; when they cannot obtain the means to support extravagance, they discover objects of curtailment. In a lavish expenditure, as before observed, consists their power, and what men voluntarily give up power? Necessity alone com pels the abandonment. Cut off the supplies that support Ministers, and Ministers will quickly cut down the establishments. Experience has recently shown this; and if the Agricultural Classes, and those who suffer from overwhelming taxation, (and what classes do not suffer?) do not learn from experience, it is their own fault. Ministers are only men, and they will wallow in the fruits of public industry, or as long as they can wallow in them, with impunity.

That they are insincere in their efforts to economize is clear, from the manner they have gone about it. What have they done? They have reduced a few clerks whose salaries needed no reduction. Their design is obviously to render retrenchment unpopular by extending it only to such objects as, from their number and situation, are most likely to excite public sympathy. All the strong holds of abuse, their own enormous salaries, the Army, and the Navy, and the Ordnance, and the Civil List, are untouched. Perhaps they are not aware that savings can be made in these departments; we will, however, proceed to show thaț, in ONE, at least, a very considerable reduction might be effected, and that, too, without going back so far as 1792, or further than the time of the Good Old King."

[blocks in formation]

THE Çivil List is a sum set apart from the general revenue to maintain the dignity of the Crown, and to defray certain expenses connected with the civil government of the country, Since the revolution of 1688, it has been usual, at the commencement of a new reign, to enter into a specific arrangement with the sovereign on this subject; and there were many reasons why this precedent should have been followed on the accession of George IV. and the Civil List Expenditure and the Hereditary Revenues undergone a thorough investigation.

First, the grant of 1816, which was continued to the King by the act of last session, was never intended to be a permanent settlement. Secondly, great as the sum voted last year was, the amount is enormously increased by the alteration in the value of the currency. Thirdly, from the declaration of Mr. Perceval, in 1812, that the application of the Hereditary Revenues would be most properly investigated on the demise of the late king; the public had soine reason to expect that this course would have been adopted.

These reasons appear to have had no weight with Ministers or their supporters on the settlement of the Civil List. Without the appointment of a committee, or the examination of a single witness or document, the new reign commenced, as will be shortly explained, with an augmented revenue of, at least, HALF A MILLION over and above the revenue of George III. And this, by no means, was the worst part of the arrangement. The Droits of Admiralty, the Leeward Island Duties, the Scotch Revenue, and other

The Civil List.

funds, notoriously forming the great sources of parliamentary corruption, were left at the uncontrolled disposal of the Ministers, to carry on, under a new reign, a similar system of war and injustice which, there is too much reason to suppose, they had mainly contributed to support in the last. It is particularly desirable to place this subject fully before the public at the present moment, because it has been passed over in comparative silence by the two Parties in the House of Commons, and the Daily Press; because, too, it will show the mockery of these professions of economy now beld out to delude the country; the insensibility of Government to public distress: and how absurd it is to expect these to save and economize, whose direct interest is to spend ; and that it is the most natural thing in the world that a body of men should, at all times, be liberal in their grant of public money, when large masses of it passes into their own pockets.

That the reader's patience may not be exhausted, we shall not carry the inquiry further back than the latest period of the government of George III.

From the year 1804 to 1811 the average annual expenditure of the Civil List amounted to £1,102,683. On the commencement of the regency, this branch of expenditure increased enormously. From 1812 to 1816, the average annual expenditure of the Civil List was £1,371,000, being an increase of £268,317 over the expenditure of George III. This augmentation arose chiefly from the profusion in the royal household; from the expense of furniture and tradesmen's bills; of upholsters, jewellers, glass and china manufacturers, builders, perfumers, embroiderers, tailors, and

The charge for upholstery, only for three quarters of a year, was £46,291; of linen-drapery, £64,000; silversmith's, £40,000; wardrobe, £72,000. To provide for these additional outgoings lord Castlereagh introduced the Civil List Régulation Bill of 1816. By this Bill no check is imposed on the profusion of the court; it only provides that various charges heretofore paid out of the Civil List, should be transferred to the Consolidated Fund, or provided for by new grants from parliament; in other words, that the Civil List should be augmented to the amount of its increased expenditure. By this arrangement an additional burden was imposed on the public amounting to £255,768, being the total of the charges of which the Civil List was relieved.

Among the charges transferred from the Civil List were £35,000, payable to the junior branches of the royal family, and which were to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund; and also salaries to the amount of £3,268 to certain officers and persons. All the charges, for the outfit of ministers to foreign courts, or presents to foreign ministers, incidental expenses in

[ocr errors]

The Civil List.

[ocr errors]

the Treasury, deficiencies of fees to secretaries of state, and in the law department, amounting to £197,000, were to be provided for by new grants from parliament. Various charges for furniture and other articles, heretofore provided by the lord chamberlain for public offices; the expense of collars, badges, and mantles, for the orders of the Garter, Bath, and Thistle ; and all expenses for repairs of public offices and buildings, at the Tower, Whitehall, and Westminster; for works in St. James's Park and private roads, estimated at £25,000, were to be provided for by new grants. The total deduction of charges being, as before stated, £255,768.

Now it is obvious that to the amount of these charges the income of the Crown was augmented, and that the scale of extravagant expenditure, in the four first years of the Regency, from 1812 to 1816, forms the basis on which the Civil List is now provided. On the accession of the king no alteration was proposed in the Civil List Regulation Bill of 1816; it passed, as is observed by the writer of a ministerial pamphlét, with “ the entire approbation of all parties;” that is, all parties,' without inquiry or examination, concurred in making a permanent addition to the king's income of a quarter of a million over that enjoyed by his predecessor.

But to judge of the immense disproportion in the incomes of the two sovereigns, it is necessary to advert to the alteration in the value of money. The average expenditure of the late king, from 1804 to 1811, was £1,102,683. The average price of wheat, from 1804 to 1811, inclusive, was 875. 6d. per quarter. The average price of wheat, in the last gazette, is 485. 8d. indicating a rise in the value of money, as measured by corn of near 50 per cent. The price of lahour, profits, tithes, rents, and interest, have all fallen in nearly the same proportion ; so that it would not be too much to reckon an income of £60 equivalent to an income of £100 in the period selected for comparison; and, consequently, that the expenditure of George III. of £1,102,683, in a depreciated currency, was not more than an expenditure of £661,609 at the present value of money. Had, therefore, the Civil List of the King been fixed at the same nominal amount as the Civil List of George III., it would have been virtually 40 per cent. greater; but, besides being at the same nominal amount, one-fourth less is to pay out of it; so that the real addition to the income of George IV. is not less than SEVENTY-FIVE per cent. ; an arrangement, we are told, with “ the entire approbation of all parties.”

The extravagant nature of the present settlement must be plain ; we have compared it with the latest expenditure of George III. and, allowing for the alteration in the currency and the charges transferred to other funds,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »