Front Page Titles (by Subject) PAPER VI.—: DEFENCE OF ECONOMY AGAINST THE RIGHT HONOURABLE GEORGE ROSE. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 5 (Scotch Reform, Real Property, Codification Petitions)
Return to Title Page for The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 5 (Scotch Reform, Real Property, Codification Petitions)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
PAPER VI.—: DEFENCE OF ECONOMY AGAINST THE RIGHT HONOURABLE GEORGE ROSE. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 5 (Scotch Reform, Real Property, Codification Petitions) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 5.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
DEFENCE OF ECONOMY
first published in 1817.
While committing to the press so free an examination as this will be found to be, of Mr. Rose’s declared principles, as published by him on the subject of public expenditure, there would, as it strikes me, be something ungenerous at least, if not unjust, in the omission, were I not to make acknowledgment, as, without any communication, direct or indirect, with the right honourable gentleman, I hereby do, of such proofs of due regard for economy as by incidents falling exclusively within my own observation have been furnished by his practice. Of the measures alluded to—two in number—both were in a very considerable degree important: one of them, in respect of extent as well as difficulty, pre-eminently so: and, on both occasions, in his instance as well as that of Mr. Pitt, by such tokens, as in the nature of the case could not have left room for doubt in the mind of any person in any situation, it fell in my way to be assured that a real regard for economy, forming a striking contrast with the mixture of waste, corruption, and dark despotism which in one of the two cases has since been exemplified, was an actuating motive: and that with the spontaneously expressed desire of receiving those suggestions, which, had not circumstances above their controul stood in the way, would accordingly have been received, any such design on the parts of either of them, as that of giving, on the particular occasions in question, any such increase as, on one of those occasions, has since been given, to corruptive influence, was plainly incompatible.
As to the tract itself, with the exception of a few inconsiderable verbal alterations, which the nature of the case necessitated, it is exactly in the state in which it was written; which was in the months of April and May 1810.
For Contents, vide suprà, p. 281.
Having taken my leave of the departed orator, I have now to pay my obeisance to the surviving statesman; who, though in the line of politics not always conjoined with him, will, in the track of principle, be on the ground here in question, found, as there has already been occasion to observe, separated from him by no great distance.
For principles such as on this same ground may serve as a standard for comparison, I must, on this occasion, as on that other, take leave to refer the reader to these closely compressed thoughts, which are about to take their chance for obtaining a small portion of his notice. [Vide Advertisement, p. 278.]
For the convenience of such persons whose taste or whose disposable time shrinks from any such mass as would be formed in the union of all three papers, I detach in advance these two parts from that which had been intended to precede them. But forasmuch as throughout this third part, reference, either express or tacit, is all along unavoidably made to the principles laid down in the postponed part, and enforced by that by which this one has now lately been preceded;* I find myself in this respect reduced to the necessity of supposing, or at least writing as I should do if I supposed the postponed, as well as the already published part, to have already made its experiment upon the reader’s patience.
In the production of Edmund Burke, the quantity of matter taken for the subject of examination, was that which happened to be contained between the 62d and 68th pages, both inclusive. Within the pages designated by the same numbers, happens to be contained the only part of Mr. Rose’s work, to which the like tribute of unremitted attention has on the present occasion been paid.*
A coincidence, rather more material, is—that of the discrepancy, not to say the repugnancy, which in this instance as in that, will, if I do not greatly deceive myself, be seen to have place—by the one architect as by the other, to the same virtue, viz. economy, a temple erected in the first part, beaten down in the second.†
MR. ROSE’S PLEAS IN BAR TO ECONOMY.
Vastness of the Expenditure.
1.The first of his pleas, thus pleaded in bar to any defalcations that might be proposed to be made from the mass of public burdens, is that which, with that ingenuity which will not pass unobserved, has been made out of the very magnitude of the mass.
“The whole revenue of Great Britain,” says the right honourable gentleman, p. 62, “is more than £60,000,000 a-year; the charge on which, of £242,000 for pensions and sinecure employments at home and abroad, is between three farthings and one penny in the pound. By the extinction, therefore, of all sinecures and pensions, a person paying taxes to the amount of £50 a-year, would save about 4s. Such a saving,” continues he, “we” (who are we?) “are far from thinking should be treated as trifling or insignificant; it would ill become the author to do so: on the other hand, how infinitely short would this fall of the expectation that has been held out.
“But if,” continues he, “from the total sum received from sinecures, places, and pensions, deduction were made of such as have been given as rewards for public services, the amount would be very greatly reduced; pensions to foreign ministers in particular, whose appointments are hardly in any instance sufficient for their maintenance.”
It is to “sinecures and pensions” alone, that this argument has, by the ingenious author, been applied; to the extra pay of overpaid places, not: but, applying as it does to both branches of expenditure, and with equal force, it would be wronging the argument not to give to both of them the full benefit of it.
Now, true it is, that were this argument to be received in the character here proposed for it, it would, it must be confessed, be a very convenient one, and save others in abundance. For every 4s. a-year which you wish to give away without any public use, contrive to spend £50 a-year, for which such a use, or the appearance of such a use, can be found, and your justification is then made.
Meantime, some reasoners there are, to whom the contrary inference would appear the more reasonable one:—unnecessary, or even necessary, the heavier the mass of our burdens is already, the less able are we to bear any addition to it, or even this or that existing part of it.
In my own view of the matter, I must confess the consideration of the magnitude of the mass is a consideration to which, on a question such as the present, there can be no necessity nor any great use in recurring.
Whatsoever it be that, at the expense of the people, is by the trustees of the people given to this or that individual without equivalent, and that an adequate one—I mean, without either receiving or reasonable expectation of receiving on account of the public a preponderate advantage, is so much waste,—and if given with eyes open to the misapplication of it, so much peculation.
When by indictment a man is prosecuted for theft, or by bill in equity for a breach of trust in the way of peculation, that of the pecuniary circumstances of the party to whose prejudice the act of dishonesty has operated, any account should be taken, is never looked upon as necessary, or so much as admissible. And not being so on that individual scale, I see not why it should be so on this all-comprehensive scale.
But if so it were, that I found myself under an obligation of bringing this topic to view, it seems to me, that, in the vastness of the existing burdens, I should be more apt to view an argument for decreasing it, than either for giving increase to it, or so much as keeping it from decrease.
The misfortune is, that without being thus expressed, this consideration has in experience operated, and with too much effect, in disposing the people to acquiesce, without remonstrance, under unnecessary pressure. Turn over the book of history, you will find that the heavier the burdens have been with which the people have been loaded, the greater the facility that has been found for rendering the load still heavier: or, what comes to the same thing, look backward, and you will find that the more considerable the load they had been accustomed to, the greater was the difficulty that was experienced in persuading them to submit, though it were but for a year or two, to any addition to it.
If, as the facility of engaging them to submit to increased burdens increased, the suffering produced by those burdens diminished, this disposition of mind would be as desirable as it is natural: but unfortunately this is not the case. By heaping law taxes upon law taxes, and law fees upon law fees, you may ruin a thousand families one year, two thousand the next year, and so on: and, the greater the number that are thus ruined, the better enabled and the better satisfied will the man of finance and the man of law be to go on receiving more and more: it will be to both of them, as it has been to both of them, and to both in one, a motion of course; but it does not appear, or (to speak intelligibly to learned gentlemen) non constat, that when the number thus ruined is two thousand, the affliction is to each or any of them lighter than when the number was but one thousand.
For forming a gag to stop complaints in the mouth of the party tormented, as well as a callus to case the heart of the tormentor, precedent is indeed a mighty good thing; and the more manifold the precedent, the more effective the gag, as well as the harder the callus: and the latter use is that to which these several pleas against economy, and this first plea in particular, seems more especially destined and adapted. The misfortune is, that by the callus formed round the one heart, the affliction that rends the other is not assuaged.
Oh but, sir (cries somebody,) what is it you are about all this while? and how sadly have you been misrepresenting the right honour able gentleman! Here are you imputing to him this sad purpose, and that immediately after having read and passed over (fie upon you!) a paragraph in which he tells you himself the purpose he had in view, and that a very different one.
True it is that I have read that paragraph; but as to the purpose spoken of in it, I feel myself under a sort of embarrassment which I shall proceed to state.
“The opinion already alluded to,” says the paragraph, p. 62, “as prevailing to a certain extent, that if sinecures and pensions were entirely suppressed, the burdens of the country would be instantly lightened to a great amount, and by some entertained that they would in that case be removed altogether, renders it necessary that a comparison should be made of the before-mentioned total (viz. of sinecures and pensions,) large as it is, with the amount of the taxes raised upon the people.”
Now then—what is expressly averred here is—that an opinion to the purpose in question is “prevailing to a certain extent.”
What seems to be insinuated—I should rather say—what, from the idea of “necessity” thus brought to view, some readers might be apt to imagine, is—that the purpose the right honourable gentleman had in view, was only the setting the people right in respect of this supposed prevalent error, and not the persuading the imposers of public burdens to consider the enormity of the mass as affording an argument for not diminishing it.
Now then, as to this supposed error: what seems to me is, that it must have been in some vision or some dream, and nowhere else, that any persons, not in the care of a keeper, could have presented themselves to the conception of the right honourable gentleman, as entertaining it. The interest of the debt paid without money—the expense of the army defrayed without money—the expense of the navy defrayed without money,—all this, not to speak of anything more, must have been believed by any person, in whose mind any such opinion should prevail, as that if sinecures and pensions were suppressed, the burdens of this country would be removed altogether.
Another thing that passes my comprehension is, how should it be that, supposing them to have found, “to a certain extent,” whatever that extent be—that is, to a certain number, whatever that number be—a set of people among whom any such opinion was prevalent, how it should be that it should have entered into their conception, otherwise than in dream or vision, as above, that, for the purpose of setting right any such people, and weaning them from their error, there could be either necessity or use in bringing forward any such ingenious and accurate calculation as that which has just been seen and which he was thereupon immediately about to treat us with: as if, supposing the existence of any such swine, such pearls could be of any the smallest use to them!
If to so right honourable a gentleman anything could be attributed that would bear any such appellation as that of artifice—(no I will not call it artifice—I will call it astutia—and then everything will be as it should be)—what, on an occasion such as this, one should be tempted to suppose, is, that the agreement thus brought forward, and put in front of the battle, was the result of a consulation with some learned, or quondam learned, as well as right honourable or honourable gentlemen, profoundly learned in that superior and purer branch of the law called equity; one of the rules of which is, that in the drawing of the initiative instrument called a bill, to entitle yourself to ask a question of the defendant, you must, in the first place, impute to him the having told some story or other, no matter how extravagant, which he never told, to serve him in the character of a “pretence” for defrauding the orator (your client) of his due; he himself neither having heard of the defendant’s ever saying any such thing, nor believing him to have ever said it; which falsehood having thus with all due regularity been come out with, serves by way of licence, as well as introduction, to whatsoever other falsehoods, mixed with whatsoever truths, it may have been deemed convenient to introduce.
Need of Provision for Decayed Nobility, &c.
2.The next plea is that which is founded on the alleged necessity of making provision for noble and respectable families fallen into decay.
“The pension list,” continues the right honourable advocate, p. 63, “also contains provisions for noble and respectable families fallen into decay; this is, however,” continues he, “an exertion of national generosity, if not of justice, which the most scrupulous economist will hardly consider as improper. Something,” continues he, “must certainly be allowed for mere favour; but when the instances are clearly improper (and it is not meant to contend there are no such,) they are at least open to public animadversion, as they are now regularly laid before parliament, and printed from time to time, which certainly affords a considerable, if not an effectual, check against abuse.”
Thus far the right honourable gentleman. For my own part, I am doomed to fall into sad disgrace with him. The conception entertained by him of any “the most scrupulous” sort of person, in the character of an “economist,” is far outstripped by me. Under what denomination it may be my lot to fall in his black dictionary, I know not; if it were that of Jacobin or Leveller, it would be no surprise to me.
Of the sort of justice which can so much as permit, not to speak of commanding, any such disposal of public money, I have no conception; nor yet of generosity, unless it be of that pernicious and hypocritical sort which gratifies itself at the expense of justice.
My protest is in the first place against the principle; as being founded on oppressive extortion, and breach of trust; as affording encouragement to extravagance, and to every vice that is fed by extravagance; as being still unjustifiable, even though there were a certainty of its not having either vice or extravagance for its consequence, any more than for its cause.
My next objection is to the amount; as being without limit; as scorning all limit: and being of itself capable of effecting a revolution in the state of property, if it did not, in a revolution in the state of power, find a preventive remedy.
I. In the first place, as to principle.
Now, to a provision of the sort in question, what is it that, according to the right honourable gentleman’s law, is to constitute a man’s title? It is “decay;”—mere decay;—the having fallen into decay; i. e. the being at the time in question in a state of indigence. Mark well, that to indigence at that degree, to which the next degree is death, or at least disease, his argument does not look; for indigence in that shape, provision is made already—made, to wit, by the species of tax called the poor rates: a tax which, even by the right honourable gentleman himself, on whose feelings public burdens sit thus lightly, has never been spoken of as a light one.
This provision, then, is not the sort and degree of provision he has in view: of the sort and degree of provision which he has in view, what more adequate or unexceptionable description can be given, than that which has been given in and by his own words? For “noble” families, then, it must be noble; for “respectable” families, it must be respectable.
Against provision of even the scantiest kind, an objection that by many has been regarded as a peremptory one, is, that it operates as a provision for idleness and extravagance. By myself, any more than by the right honourable gentleman, it has never been regarded in that light; not seeing, that so long as it is confined to what is absolutely necessary to keep a person alive and free from disease, and given on condition of working, where work can be made profitable (and beyond this I undertake not for the defence of it) subsistence is capable of acting to any preponderantly formidable extent in that character: and considering that, without some such provision, multitudes there are, that by infirmity, the result of infamy, or decrepitude, or disease, would without any default of their own be exposed to perish, and would accordingly perish, by lingering disease or famine.
But by any such provision, neither the generosity of the right honourable gentleman, nor so much as his justice, is to be satisfied: for noble families, satisfied it never can be by anything less than a noble provision; for respectablefamilies, by anything less than a respectable one.
In the provision already made by law—a provision neither limited, nor, unfortunately for the country, capable of being limited—some have viewed a gulf capable, of itself, of swallowing up one of these days the whole produce of national industry. Of any such disaster I have not, for my own part, any serious apprehension; but, of the generosity of the right honourable gentleman, or by whatever other name this article in the catalogue of his virtues be to be called, of this virtue, if once admitted to operate, and in the character of a principle set the law to practice, I cannot but regard this catastrophe as an inevitable consequence.
II. For now let us think a little of the amount: and to this the right honourable gentleman has not attempted to set any limits. Vain indeed would have been any such attempt; the principle scorns all limits. Taken by itself, nobility,—had that been the only source of demand on this score—would not have scorned all limits. Noble families, for example, so many:—in each family, generations reckoning downwards from each peer, to be regarded as still noble, so many:—minimum of the pension to each individual in a state of decay, according to the rank occupied by the family in the scale of the peerage, is so much. Here would have been one exercise for the right honourable gentleman’s skill in figures.
But neither for the right honourable gentleman’s generosity, nor for his justice, is it enough, that for noble families in decay a noble provision be thus kept up; for respectable families in the same state, there must moreover be a respectable one. Here all powers of calculation, even those of the right honourable gentleman, would find themselves at a stand.
For the moment, let me take the liberty of proposing for them an analogous, though a somewhat different exercise.
By the taxes, as they stand at present—(I presume it is out of taxes, and not out of heaven-dropped manna or heaven-dropped quails, that, according to his plan, the noble and the respectable provision would be to be made)—by the taxes, as they stand at present, a certain number of families are every year pressed down from a state of independence into a state of pauper and parochially-supported indigence. Now then, for every branch of a noble and respectable family, which, by the noble or respectable provision respectively, is kept above indigence—meaning that which, to the noble or respectable family would have been indigence—how many branches that, without being either noble or respectable, or as yet independent, would be pressed down into that which really is indigence? If thought be too much to ask for, a calculation of this sort from a right honourable hand, in which figures are so plenty and so much at command, might, at any rate, be not undeserving, it is hoped, of a few figures.
Another exercise for the mathematics of the right honourable gentleman. The respectable families—let them for the moment be laid out of the question—let the calculation still confine itself to the noble ones.
After observations taken of the rate of the increase given to nobility by his still present Majesty, or even of that part of it that was given with the advice of the right honourable gentleman’s departed hero, let him, with Cocker in his hand, carry on the increase through a portion of future contingent time. Considering that neither Scotland nor Ireland, nor anything that is noble in either kingdom, can on this occasion be left out of the account, let him inform us what are the number of years that will have elapsed antecedently to that point of time at which the amount of the provision made on his plan for noble decay, will have outstripped that of the provision at the same time made for ignoble indigence.
“Oh, but you are confounding classes—you are confounding species. This is the way with you jacobins and you levellers. You confound every thing. The noble and respectable families are of one species: the ignoble and unrespectable families are of another. The ignoble and unrespectable families are of the species that are sent to Walcheren; the noble and respectable families are of the species that send them there. The families whose branches are to be preserved from decay, are those whose feelings have a right to be consulted: the families that are to be helped on in the road to ruin, are those whose feelings have no such right.”
A smile beams on the countenance of the right honourable gentleman. He calls for his extinct peerage: he foresees his triumph: he beholds the confusion of the jacobin; when, at the end of the calculation, it has been made as plain as figures can make anything, how many centuries will have elapsed before any such outstripping can have taken place.
Well then; having, by the success of the operation thus performed upon the noble families, given vigour to his hand, let him try it upon the respectable ones.
What has just been seen, is what the right honourable gentleman has not anywhere said. True;—but it is what (I fear much) from the beginning of this pamphlet to the end of it, is but too much like what he has thought.
“Something,” (says the right honourable gentleman, such is his candour) “something must certainly be allowed for mere favour.” Good sir, you already forget your own argument: it is all mere favour, or it is none. “Decay,” not service; “decay,” not merit in any shape, real or imagined, was your title: decay, by what cause soever produced, as well as in whatsoever quantity; produced by eating and drinking,—produced by carrying about seraglios in foreign missions,—produced by horse-racing,—produced by dice or E. O.; is decay less decay? Is nobility the less noble? Is respectability (I mean your sort of respectability—the respectability which consists in having or spending money of one’s own or other people’s) the less respectable?
Talk of justice and injustice? So long as any one individual is, whether on the score of nobility or of respectability, preserved in this way from decay, it is not mere disfavour, it is no better than mere injustice, to refuse it to any other.
“But where the instances are clearly improper—and it is not meant,” continues the right honourable gentleman, “to contend that there are no such, they are at least open to public animadversion.” Good sir, once more your candour carries you too far. What you do not mean to contend for, I must, even I. Indeed, sir, there are not any such instances: your principle admitted, there cannot be any.
“They are at least open to public animadversion.” Your pardon, sir; indeed they are not. Individually they are not: they are not common: to the “public” two things altogether necessary to the purpose are wanting, viz. information and time. Mr. Brown has £1200 a-year: two Miss Vandals have £600. Who knows who this Mr. Brown or those Miss Vandals are? At the moment when the necessity of providing for noble or respectable decay in the person or persons of this Mr. Brown or these Miss Vandals, has by some noble or right honourable person been whispered into the royal ear, the whisperer knows: but the next moment nobody knows. Even now there are more of them than the public patience can endure so much as to count: and shall we talk of scrutiny? More than can be so much as counted even now! and what shall we say when, your principle being in full operation, there are with us in England, as you know when there were in France, enough of them to fill a red book, and that, like the army list, no small book, of themselves.
No, sir; individually open to public animadversion they are not, even now: much less at the time in question would they be. But in the lump, in the principle on which they are proposed to be multiplied, and that to infinity, they are “open to animadversion:” and on this consideration it is that the presumption, betrayed by the present weak and inadequate attempt at “animadversion,” has found its cause.
On the wing, who can think to catch, who can so much as follow, all such wasps? But in the egg, if the people have but spirit enough, they may be crushed.
“Something,” says the candour of the right honourable gentleman, “must be allowed for mere favour.” Yes: and something must also he allowed for an affection of an opposite nature. This candour of his shall not go unrequited: it shall be paid for in the same coin. If profusion be, as it appears to be, all that is meant by “the abuse,” a check that abuse “certainly” has;—and that check but too “certainly” is “considerable,” though unhappily it is far from being “an effectual” one. Of itself, profusion, were that the whole of the disorder, would have no check: but, complicated as it is with another disorder, corruption, in that other disorder, odd as the case may seem at the first mention of it, it does find a sort of a check: the diarrhæa finds in the septic diathesis a sort of astringent.
The paradox will disappear immediately. When it happened that the right honourable gentleman, by whom the case of the sprig of decayed nobility or respectability had been submitted to royal “generosity” or royal “justice,” had been voting on the improper side, the instance (could any such hopeless intrusion be supposed on the part of the right honourable gentleman) would be one of the clearly improper ones, and the decay would be left to its own natural course. When so it happened that on all occasions the patron had properly understood, as in duty, I mean in loyalty, every such patron is bound to understand, what on each occasion is the proper side, the decay would find its proper preservative, and the profusion would be left to the operation of that check, with the virtue of which the right honourable gentleman is so nearly satisfied; I mean, that “certainly considerable, if not effectual check” against abuse, which is “afforded” by the pensions forming, when the mischief is past remedy, part and parcel of that almost completely unintelligible, and effectually inscrutable, mass of information or non-information, which is “now” “so regularly laid before parliament.”
Need of Subsistence for Official Persons.
3.A third plea is that which is composed of the alleged non-excess, or even insufficiency, of official incomes.
“If we look to official incomes, it will be found they are in most cases,” says the right honourable gentleman, “barely equal to the moderate, and even the necessary expenses of the parties: in many instances, they are actually insufficient for these.”
Under the modest guise of a plea against retrenchment, we have here a plea for increase, and that again an inexhaustible one.
In this plea, two points present a more particular call for observation.
One consists in the indefiniteness, and thence in the universality, of the terms by which the incomes in question, and thence the incomists are designated. By “official incomes,” unless some word of limitation be annexed—and no such word is annexed—must be understood all official incomes. Less than all cannot be meant; for, if anything less be meant, the argument falls short of its undissembled purpose. In most cases, scantiness being asserted, and in many, insufficiency—and that even without a view to the single purpose of a bare subsistence, whether there be any of these incomes that are more than “barely equal” to that object, is left to conjecture.
2. The other the word necessary, viz. in the application here made of it to a mass of expenses that are to be defrayed at the public charge: an aggregate composed of the several individual expenditures of all these several official persons; and when the present Mr. Rose comes to be in the situation (poverty excepted) of the late Mr. Pitt, let any one calculate, whose skill in calculation is equal to the task, how many are the hundreds of thousands, not to say the millions, a-year, that will depend on the construction of these two words.
To assist us in this calculation, an example, though unfortunately but one, has been afforded us by the right honourable gentleman: and, so far as this carries us, it will appear that, even where, by the frugality of the right honourable gentleman, it is confined to what is “necessary,” (the inflexibility of this virtue not suffering it to rise to so high a pitch as even to be “moderate,”) what, in speaking of an official person, is meant by his expense, is composed of the official income, whatever it be, which he finds provided for it by law, together with a capital to the amount of between eight and nine years’ purchase of it, or reckoning by the year, about 25 per cent. upon it, the person’s own patrimony, if he happens to have any, included or not included. But of this under another head.*
Need of Money for making Fortunes for Official Persons and their Families.
4.The next plea is that which is founded on the alleged necessity of enabling persons in official situations—all persons in all official situations—to provide for their families at the public expense.
“May we not then venture to ask,” continues the argument from the passage last quoted—“may we not then venture to ask, whether it is reasonable, or whether it would be politic, that such persons should, after spending a great part of their lives with industry, zeal, and fidelity, in the discharge of trusts and public duties, be left afterwards without reward of any sort, and their families entirely without provision?”
The skill of the right honourable gentleman in arithmetic is above, far above, dispute; but, if we may venture to say as much, his logic seems to be not altogether upon a par with it.
His antecedent, as delivered in the last preceding sentence, is, that the “official income” of the official man is “in many instances insufficient,” even for his necessary expenses, meaning his necessary current expense; and in this next sentence, the consequent or conclusion drawn is, that, in plain English, and to speak out, he ought to be enabled to make his fortune always at the public expense; and that to so good a purpose, that after his decease his family may, in respect of current expenses, so long as it continues, find itself—in what plight? in the same plight (we are left to conclude) or thereabouts, as its founder, the official man himself.
As to the being preserved as long as it lasts,—preserved in all its branches from decay,—that any such provision would be short of the mark, though not to what degree short of the mark, is what we are assured of; for if the family of an official person be a respectable family (and if not, what family can be a respectable one?) if this be admitted, “trusts,” or no trusts, “public duties,” or no public duties; the being kept in a state of perpetual preservation from decay is a right that, in the preceding paragraph, has been claimed for them by the right honourable gentleman’s “generosity,” supported by his justice.
The form of the argument is indeed rather of the rhetorical than the logical cast—May we not venture to ask? The answer is, good sir, no apology—ask boldly; but ask one thing at a time. First, let us make up the deficiency in respect of current and present expenses, and as the supply we are to provide for these “dischargers of trusts and duties” is to keep pace with their expenditure—with the expenditure of each and every of them (for your “generosity” makes no exception)—“may we not then venture to ask,” on our parts, for a little breathing time? If so, then, after we have taken breath a little, will be the time for entering on the further employment you have found for us; viz. the making provision for the families of those official, and therefore meritorious persons, whose “industry, zeal, and fidelity,” as we have not the honour of being acquainted with them, it is impossible for us to dispute.
To this industry, zeal, and fidelity, the “reward” which your generosity and justice, your reason and your “policy,” have in store for them, is doubtless to be proportioned: for otherwise those virtues of theirs would, as to a part of them more or less considerable, be left without reward—(virtue left without its reward!)—and as, in the estimate to be formed of the degree in which these several virtues will, by the several official, and therefore meritorious, persons be displayed, your “policy,” under the guidance of your “generosity,” will not find itself under any restraint; the quantity of the reward will be as little in danger of finding any such limits, as would pinch and straiten it.
The “insufficiency” of their respective “official incomes,” for the respective “necessary expenses” of these officially industrious, zealous, and “faithful” persons—as such is the title on which the “generosity,” “justice,” “reasonableness,” and “policy” of the right honourable gentleman rest their right to have their “necessary expenses” defrayed for them, and at the same time their fortunes made for them; and as no other man can be so good a judge of what is necessary for a man as the man himself is—there is a sort of comfort in the reflection, how small the danger is, that, upon the principles and plans of the right honourable gentleman, virtue, in any such shape at least as that of “industry, zeal, and fidelity,” (meaning always official ditto) will be left without its reward. Having got your official situation, you spend in it so much a-year as you find necessary. Having so done, thus and then is it that you have entitled yourself to the benefit of the right honourable gentleman’s conclusion—his logical conclusion, embellished and put into the dress of a rhetorical erotesis—that you are entitled to receive out of the taxes as much more as will secure to your “family” that “provision” which, in virtue of your “industry, zeal, and fidelity,” speaking without partiality, or with no other “partiality” than that which, according to the head-master* in the school of official economy, is a kind of justice, it appears to you to deserve.
After so exemplary a pattern of diffidence as has been set by a right honourable gentleman, whose grounds for confidence are so manifest and so unquestionable, a plain man, who feels no such grounds, nor any grounds, for any such pleasurable sensation, can scarce muster up enough of it to put a question of any kind, for fear of being thought encroaching: but, if any one would save me harmless from that charge, I would venture to ask whether it may not have been by a too unqualified adherence to these principles, a too rigid adherence to these precepts, of the two great masters, and without taking the benefit of those precautionary instructions, which the prudence or even the example of one of them might, if sufficiently studied, have furnished them with, that their right honourable friend Mr. Steele, and the honourable Mr. Villiers, and the till the other day honourable Mr. Hunt, and the gallant General Delancy, and the “industrious, zealous, and faithful” Mr. John Bowles, with his et cæteras, and so many other et cæteras, were led into those little inaccuracies, which time after time have afforded matter of so much, though happily as yet fruitless, triumph to jacobins, levellers, and parliamentary reformers?
It is necessity alone, and not inclination, that, in the performance of the task I have set myself in the school of economy, so frequently imposes upon me so great a misfortune as that of being seen to differ from so great a master as the right honourable gentleman: and accordingly, wherever I am fortunate enough to be able to descry between us anything like a point of coincidence, it is with proportionable eagerness that I lay hold of it, and endeavour to make the most of it.
His plan is—that “official persons,” among whom, for the purpose in question, he includes (I presume) persons proposed or proposing themselves for official situations, should determine for themselves what mass of emolument is sufficient for their own expenses, and what for the expenses of their respective families, in present and in future. Now, thus far, this is exactly my plan. Thus far, then, we are agreed; but now comes the unfortunate difference.
My plan (it will be seen) is, that having formed his own calculations, each candidate, in taking his determination, should take it once for all: and moreover, that, as in the case of stores, in which instance, instead of skilful labour itself, the produce of skilful labour has, with such well-grounded approbation on the part of the right honourable gentleman, been, ever since the time he speaks of,† regularly furnished for the public service, there should be a “competition,” whereupon that one of them, whose judgment concerning what is sufficient for him and his, is most favourable to the public interest, should (unless for, and to the extent of, special cause to the contrary) be accepted.
Thus far my plan. But, according to the right honourable gentleman’s, the accepted candidate, who without any such competition is to be accepted, viz. in considerations of that “industry, zeal, and fidelity,” which will be so sure of being found in him—this accepted candidate, after his calculation has been formed, and the office, with its emolument, taken possession of, is to have the convenience of remaining at liberty to correct by the light of experience (as we shall see* the illustrious chief and pattern of all official men did) any such errors as the calculation shall, from time to time, have been found to contain in it. By this practical test having ascertained what is “necessary” for his own present expenses, he will have put himself in a condition to determine, and ought accordingly to stand charged with the “trust and duty” of determining, what further provision will be necessary for the “necessary expenses” of his family, considered in its several branches, present and future contingent, for and during the continuance of that portion of time called future time.
Another unfortunate difference is—that, according to my plan, no exclusion, either express or implied, is put upon such candidates to whom it may happen to have property or income of their own: unable as I am to discover any such office, for the “trusts and duties” of which, any such property or income can reasonably be considered as constituting, in any point of view, a ground of disqualification, or to understand, how it can be that a hundred a-year should, in the case of its being a man’s own private money, go less far towards the defraying the “necessary expenses” of him and his, than if it were so much public money, received in the shape of official emolument out of the public purse. What, in regard to my official man, my plan accordingly assumes, is—either that he has more or less property or income of his own, or (what in my view comes to much the same thing) what, if anything, remains to the official situation, after the offer made by him, in relation to it, has been accepted, is, in his own judgment, sufficient for his “expenses,” “necessary” and unnecessary, upon every imaginable score.
Of this assumption, that which seems all along to have been proceeded upon by the right honourable gentleman’s plan, is exactly the reverse.
True it is, that no disqualification act, excluding from official situations all such persons as shall have either property or income, is anywhere proposed by him;—no, nor is so much as any recommendation given by him to the wisdom of the crown in the choice it makes of persons for filling these situations, to act as if a law to some such effect were in force. But, all along, the supposition proceeded and argued upon by him is—that there exists not, in the quarter in question, any such relatively superfluous matter: a state “entirely without provision” is the state in which “afterwards,” to wit, after “a great part of his life spent” by the official person “in the discharge of trusts and duties,” his “family” is spoken of as being “left:” and it is upon this supposition that at least the “policy” of the right honourable gentleman (not to speak of his humanity) grounds itself in the appeal it makes to that same endowment, which he beholds as fixed in the breasts of those honourable persons for whose use this lesson of economy is designed. Would it be “reasonable?”—would it be “politic?”—are the questions which on this occasion he asks leave to “venture to ask.”
Need of Money for Buying Men off from Professions.
5.A fifth plea is composed of the alleged necessity of buying off men from private pursuits: in other words, of the want of “wisdom” there would be in failing to allow to official men—to all official men—in the shape of official emolument, as much money, at the least, as anybody can gain “by trade or manufactures.”
“It would hardly,” says he, p. 64, “he wise, on reflection, to establish a principle, which would have a tendency at least to exclude from the service of their country, men likely to be useful to it. Great numbers of those who engage in trade and manufactures (than whom none are held in greater estimation by the author) or who enter into various professions, frequently acquire very large fortunes” (very true indeed) “and seldom, if they have talents and perseverance, fail to obtain independence. What fairness, justice, or reason, is there then in marking the character of the official man alone with disrespect, and himself as unfit to have reward in any case, beyond an annual stipend for his labour and services, just sufficient for his current expenses, however faithfully and diligently he may have discharged an important trust for a long series of years?” “Surely,” concludes he, “it is not unwise or unreasonable that the public should be in a situation to bid to a limited extent for talents, in competition with other honourable and lucrative professions, and various branches of trade and manufactures.”
Thus far the right honourable author:—as for the obscure commentator, perplexity is once more his fate. The right honourable author speaks of a principle: a principle which, such as it is, he disapproves of. But what this principle is, the obscure commentator can no otherwise take his chance for declaring aright, than by a very random guess.
The omitting, in the instance of an official person, to make for his family a provision, such as he (the official person) or the right honourable author, or somebody else (and who else?) shall pitch upon as being “necessary,” and, according to the just-described plan of estimation, sufficient? An omission to this effect, is it the thing to which, by the style and title of a “principle,” the right honourable gentleman, “on reflection,” means to attach the censure (for gentle and considerate as it is, it is still a censure)—attached to it, viz. by saying of it that “it would hardly be wise?” Yes; this must be it; at any rate, it is the nearest approach to it that the perplexed commentator is able to make.
But of this principle, which “it would hardly be wise to establish,” though unfortunately we have no such specific and particular description, as (were it only to save us from wishing to see an unwise principle established) we cannot but wish for, we have at any rate a general description, viz. such a description as is given of it by the designation, its imputed tendency:—and that in so many words:—“a principle” (says he) “which would have a tendency at least to exclude from the service of their countrymen likely to be useful to it.”
Now, in this principle, if so it be that the perplexed commentator has succeeded in his humble endeavours to pierce the cloud that covers it—in this principle we have another measure of the quantity of emolument which on this single score, not to speak at present of any other—on this one account, viz. that of money to be employed in making the fortunes of their respective families, the right honourable author, did it depend on him, would, in the situation of minister, annex to office,—annex to every office.
Let us distinguish what requires to be distinguished. What, under the last head, we learned, was one of the purposes for which the official emolument was necessary;—what, under this head, we receive, is a sort of standard of reference, from which the quantity of that necessary emolument may be estimated, and finally set down in figures. True it is that, on the present occasion, not that same purpose, but a fresh purpose, is named and brought to view; there, the purpose was, enabling the official man to make his family, here, it is—inducing a man, not as yet official, to become such by buying him off from other pursuits;—from all pursuits, how lucrative soever, in any one of which, if not thus bought off, it might have happened to him to engage.
But, if the quantity allowed for this fresh purpose (viz. the buying-off purpose) be ample enough (and the necessity of not being niggardly on this score will be no secret)—the consequence is, that by the help of a little economy, such as at the hands of so enlightened a professor of economy it might not be too much to venture to ask for, one and the same mass of money might be made to serve both purposes. The reason is—that, on the occasion of the two purposes, two different periods are in question; viz. that of possession, and that of expectancy. When actually in possession, whatsoever it be that is necessary to a man, for the good purpose (whatever it be) which is in question (making a family, for example, and so forth,) that it is that he must have in hand. But, before he has taken possession, and till he has taken possession, it is not necessary, how desirable soever on some accounts it might be, that at the public expense he should have anything. So as you do but give him in prospect, and sufficiently secured, as much as, if in possession, would be, by ever so little, more than any man ever got into possession of by means of trade or manufactures—a million, for example—that same million will, when the time comes, be accepted of, upon account at least, as and for the money necessary to make his family. Of this same million, the eventual possession being sufficiently secured, the bare expectation will suffice to buy him off from all trades and manufactures in the lump: so that in fact, if when measured according to the standard laid down by this fifth plea, the allowance made on the sum mentioned in plea the fourth be sufficiently liberal, the advantage mentioned in this same fifth plea is so much got for nothing.
Money, it must all this while be carefully kept in mind—money is the only sort of matter which, according to the principles of our right honourable author, is to the purpose here in question; viz. to the purpose of providing recruits for the official establishment, capable of officiating in the character of matter of reward. Even so substantial a thing as power—power of management—power of patronage,—titles,—honours, not to speak of any such empty bubble as reputation—all this, in the estimation of the right honourable author, is, to the purpose here in question at least, without force or value.
Money, therefore, and in the same quantity as if there were nothing else that had any value, is the matter of which the reward, or whatever it be that is to constitute a man’s inducement to engage in the service of the country, is to be composed.
But, as is very truly observed by the right honourable gentleman, so it is, that, in virtue of the money, the prospect of which they present to those who engage in them, there are not only “other honourable and lucrative professions,” but “various branches of trade and manufactures,” that enter into “competition” with the money, which, in the character of official emolument, stands annexed to official service.
Equally true it is, that every instance in which, in case of a man’s “engaging in any of those non-official lines of industry, and in particular in any branch of trade or manufactures, it might happen to him to get more money than he could by official service, the difference, whatever it may be, has” (to use the words of the right honourable gentleman) “a tendency at least to exclude from the service of their country, men likely to be useful to it.” True, on the other hand, it is, that the character in which this “tendency” operates, is not that of a physical bar: no, nor so much as that of a penal statute. It is, however, in the character of that sort of obstacle, the resisting force of which is in his eyes so powerful, that the whole paragraph, with the whole of the deobstruent force therein contained, is devoted to the sole purpose of removing it; viz. by persuading those on whom it depends, so to order matters, that by this “discharge of trusts and duties,” more money may so be got by somebody or anybody, than can be got by anybody in the exercise of any “lucrative profession, trade, or manufacture.”
Now then, to get the better of so troublesome a thing as this “principle of exclusion,” and enable the “service of the country” to have as good a chance as “trade and manufactures” have, for “engaging men likely to be useful to it,” what is then to be done? Two courses there are, and in the nature of things but two, by which any such effect is capable of being produced. One consists in lessening the quantity of money capable of being gained in the way of trade and manufactures; the other, in increasing the quantity of money capable of being gained in the shape of official emolument in the way of official service.
To the quantity of money capable at present of being gained in trade or manufactures there are no limits. A million or more one hears spoken of as the amount of the money gained in this or that instance, and even from no very considerable beginnings: of half that money, or thereabouts, one hears in numbers of other instances. Fixations of this sort must remain exposed, not only to original uncertainty, but to continual variation. By a select committee, with the right honourable gentleman at the head, this point, however, is one that needs not despair of being settled: settled, if not with mathematical exactness, at any rate with that rough degree of precision which is sufficient for practice.
True it is, all this while, that on behalf of the public—that public which he has thus taken under his protection—the sum which the right honourable gentleman requires for this purpose is but a “limited” sum. To enable the public to maintain, on the occasion in question, the proposed “competition” with so formidable a host of competitors as the “other honourable and lucrative professions, and various branches of trade and manufactures,” all he asks is—that it “should be in a situation to bid to a “limited” extent.
But, the limits here alluded to—at what point shall they be set? If set at a sum, the effect of which will leave to these rival pursuits so much as a “tendency to exclude from the service of their countrymen who are likely to be useful to it,” they will “exclude,” from the faculty of regulating practice on this head, the right honourable gentleman, with those “wise” principles of his which he is thus supporting against the unwise ones he complains of.
For a maximum, beginning with the highest situation, shall we, to make sure, say, for example, a couple of millions, to be laid up over and above “his necessary current expenses,” by an official person who, with that “industry, zeal, and fidelity,” the union of which the right honourable accountant gives him credit for, as a matter of course, shall, in that highest situation, have spent in the “discharge of trusts and public duties a great part”—say, for example, five-and-twenty years—of his life?
For our maximum, taking, then, these two millions, or even so scanty an allowance as a single million, and setting out from this point, shall we proceed downwards till, after the manner of that other state lottery, which is commonly so called, we have got for our lottery a number of prizes equal to the aggregate number of official situations?
This is what, “on reflection,” the “wisdom” of the right honourable gentleman requires us to do, on pain of seeing “established, the principle,” against the “exclusive tendency” of which we have been seeing him remonstrate so pathetically: this, in short, is what we must do, unless, embracing the only other branch of the alternative, and going to work in the other quarter, we set ourselves to restrict the quantity of money that a man shall be “in a situation” to gain by any of the “various branches of trade and manufactures.”
In the “bidding,” thus proposed by him “for talents,” if on his plan the public service is to have any chance of bearing off the prize or prizes, there remains therefore but one other expedient; and that is, the “limiting,” and thus eventually lessening, the quantity of the emolument which men shall have it in their power to make in trade or manufactures.
But this is what the right honourable gentleman would never permit himself to endeavour at. For this would be to “mark with disrespect the character”—not now indeed “of the official man,” but what, in the right honourable gentleman’s estimation, would be quite as improper a character thus to mark, viz. that of the mercantile man. It would be to stigmatize by this invidious mark “great numbers of those who engage in trade and manufactures:”—persons “than whom none,” not even the official man himself, “are by the author,” (as the right honourable author is himself pleased to assure them) “held in higher estimation.” This, then, is the objection to the setting limits to the sum which a man shall be “in a situation to gain by trade or manufactures:” and after an objection thus conclusive, it were lost time to look for minor ones.
DIGRESSION CONCERNING THE VALUE OF MONEY.
Such, as we have seen, is the course one or other branch of which is, “on reflection,” in the sight of the right honourable author, so necessary, that the omitting to pursue it is considered by him as that which would have the effect of “marking the character of the official man with disrespect;”—which to do would—as, in the way of interrogation, the right honourable gentleman, with most incontestable propriety, observes—would be to act without “fairness, justice or reason.”
Now as to “disrespect” for this protégé of the right honourable gentleman—disrespect for him I do protest that I feel none. But, as to the allowing to him out of the taxes all that money which the “generosity” and “justice” and “reason” and “policy” and “wisdom” and “fairness” of his right honourable patron lays claim to on his behalf—without knowing exactly what it is, thus much I know, that so expensive a proof of the absence of disrespect is more than I could afford to pay my share of: mine being one of the “many instances in which income,” even though not “official,” is insufficient (to borrow the right honourable gentleman’s words) “actually insufficient for these.”
What I am therefore reduced to, is—the plea that my declining to do that, to the doing of which my limited means are so far from being sufficient, is not a mark of disrespect to anybody; and by this plea, in so far and so long as it can be maintained, as I humbly conceive it may be to the very last, without disrespect to the right honourable gentleman, I am determined to abide.
My notion of him (I mean the “official man”) is—that, besides money, there are other things that are capable of being objects of his regard: other things that are capable of engaging him to take upon himself the obligations of office, in the words of the right honourable author (of the value of which, when they are to be had, I am too fully sensible to take up with any other) to “spend” even “a great part of his life in the discharge of trusts and public duties:” and in proof of this, regarding fact as no bad proof of possibility, I have referred to several most conspicuous, and happily very extensive lines of practice.*
If it be by either of us—if it be by anybody—that this same “official man” is treated with “disrespect,” I would venture to appeal to every man, in whose eyes there may be anything besides money that has a value, whether it is not, by the right honourable gentleman himself, whose sympathy can so ill brook the imputation, and whose imagination paints to him a set of unreasonable people—a set of people, into whose company, spite of all protestations, I cannot but expect to find myself forced—people who, being sworn enemies to this same officially “industrious, zealous, and faithful” person, exercise themselves in “marking his character with disrespect,” in despite of “fairness, reason, and justice,”—(p. 65.)
What the right honourable gentleman insists upon—and in a manner much stronger than by direct assertion—what he insists upon in the way of assumption, is—that upon the mind of his official person there is nothing in the world but money that is capable of operating, whether in possession or expectation, with any adequate degree of efficiency, in the character of “reward.”
Now, in regard to this same sort of person, my notion is quite opposite: quite opposite, and so determinately so, that the supposed contrariety of his disposition to the character given of him by the right honourable gentleman, is all that that plan of mine, which has so often been alluded to, has to ground itself upon.
“Money, money—nothing else, sir, is of any value in your eyes . . . .”
“Many things there are, sir, besides money, that have their value in your eyes . . . .”
The first is the language in which this respectable person is addressed by the right honourable gentleman, his declared patron. The other is the language in which he is addressed by the obscure man, his supposed enemy.
In which of these two modes of address is there most of respect—most of disrespect?—Gentle reader, judge between us.
For my part, the former mode of address is one that I could not prevail upon myself to use to any man; no, not even to the right honourable gentleman himself: not even his own licence, clear as it is—not even his own express command would prevail upon me; neither to him, nor of him, could I prevail upon myself ever to say any such thing: for I do not—no, that I don’t—I would say it to his face—believe it to be true. I beg pardon for the seeming contradiction that I put upon what he says: I mean not anything of disrespect to him in this shape, any more than in the other. I mean not that, should he absolutely insist upon giving any such account of himself, he would, at the moment, be saying that of which he would be conscious of its not being true. All I mean is, that if such be his opinion of himself, he does not do himself justice: that, for want of leisure, engrossed as his attention has been by the “discharge of trusts and public duties,” he has not looked closely enough into a subject—a human subject—which, if he were to become a little better acquainted with it than he appears as yet to be, might afford him more cause of satisfaction than he seems to be aware of.
Yes, on this ground, defend him I will, though it be against himself; and, fierce as his attack upon himself is, it is not pushed with so much skill, but that I will make him parry it.
For this purpose, I do insist upon it—I will take no denial—that he shall look once more at the last of his own pages but one. After reading, marking, and learning there, that “the most degrading corruption of a statesman, or his friends, is indeed by the influence of money,” he will find it written—and that immediately after—that “public men may be corrupted by the love of power, as well as by lust of gain.” Now then, if by this same love of power men may be “corrupted,” by this same love of power (I say) they may be operated upon; and if operated upon to a bad purpose, so may they, and (let us hope) still more easily and effectively, to a good one: for when operated upon to a bad purpose, they must be strange men indeed, if they do not find themselves operated upon, with how little force and effect soever, by some principle or other, in a counter-direction: in a counter-direction by some principle or other, call it fear of disrepute, call it conscience, call it what you please* —which they would find acting, not in opposition to, but in concert with, the love of power, in any case, in which the purpose, towards which it operated upon them, and towards which it tended to direct their exertions, were a good one.
And is it really any opinion of the right honourable gentleman’s, that to the love of power it is impossible to act upon the mind of man in any direction but a sinister one?—impossible to act upon it with effect in any other way than by corrupting it? No; that it is not: for if it were, he would shake off from his hands whatsoever, in the shape of power, he felt sticking on them; he would shake it off as he would a viper. Adieu all treasurerships! adieu even all clerkships! for to the clerkship, even of parliament, though no such troublesome appendage as that of obligation has ever been felt cleaving to it and incumbering it, yet (not to speak of money—that not being here in question) power enough, and in a variety of shapes, might be found thereunto appertaining, if a gentleman happened to be in a humour to make use of it.
Thus it is that, in and by every line, I am labouring and toiling to prove, and if possible persuade gentlemen to be of opinion, that the sun shines at noonday. But why? Only because, in and by the argument of the right honourable gentleman, the contrary fact is assumed.
Need of Money as a Stimulus to Official Exertion.
A sixth plea, if I understand it right, consists in the alleged need of money for the purpose of serving in the case of official men in the character of a stimulus: to be applied, viz. to men of hereditary wealth and independence, to spur them on to the acquisition of talent; or else to be applied somewhere else, in order to enable us to do without them and their talents, by having better men in their stead.
Of this plea, the account I am thus giving is, I must confess, besides its not being quite so clear as I could wish, a little longwinded; but it is the best I am able to give. Meantime the reader will see whether he can make anything better of it.
“It has always been justly held,”* says the right honourable gentleman, “in a free country, and particularly in this, to be one of its greatest privileges, that the chief aristocracy, as far as relates to the management of its public concerns, should be an aristocracy of talent and of virtue, as well as of rank and of property; which principle would be destroyed, if remuneration for public services should be withheld; and the community would be deprived of all its advantages. Not only the great offices of state, but some others of most efficiency” (secretaryships to the treasury, perhaps, for instance) “must then be” (meaning probably, would in that case necessarily be) “confined to men of hereditary wealth and independence; and, with all the proper respect which should be entertained for such men, it must be allowed that, for the acquisition and improvement of talents necessary for the higher offices, the passing occasionally through the inferior situations, and that principle of activity which animates men in the attainment, so much more than in the mere possession, of power and station, are much more favourable than the honours claimable by descent alone.”
The exertions made by the right honourable gentleman, in the endeavours he uses to prevail upon himself, and enable himself, to pay whatever respect it may be “proper” to pay to men of a certain description, present an edifying spectacle. It is what he has been trying at, and labouring at throughout the whole course of his paragraph (which, as the reader feels, is not a very short one,) and after all, without having any great success to boast of. Stationed, and for so long a course of time, close to the very door of the cabinet, though not yet on the right side of it—seeing the Duke of Portland every day, seeing the Earl of Liverpool, seeing the Lord Viscount Castlereagh, son and heir-apparent to the Earl of Londonderry, seeing the Earl of Westmoreland, seeing the Earl of Chatham, seeing Earl Camden, seeing the Lord Mulgrave—(seeing, in a word, almost everybody that is worth seeing) all of them not only “men of hereditary wealth and independence,” but even nobles of the land—among all those great men there is not one, no not one, whom he has found it possible to “hold in any higher estimation” than great numbers of those who engage in trade and manufactures. I mean, antecedently to the exertions betrayed or displayed in this present paragraph; and how small the progress is, which in this same paragraph he has succeeded in making, let this same paragraph itself declare.
His Majesty, for whom also the right honourable gentleman (I will be bound for him) has all along been labouring, and with at least equal energy, to entertain “all the proper respect which should be entertained for” him, all these great men, his Majesty, or those whose estate (as the lawyers say) he hath, were, at one time or other, at the pains of decking out with titles, and even some of them with ribbons: yet after all, and upon so good a judge of merit as the right honourable gentleman—one moreover who has had such good and such near opportunities of observation—so inconsiderable has been the effect that has been produced at all this expense—that “in the estimation” of the right honourable gentleman, they are still so unfortunate, every one of them, as not to occupy any higher place than is occupied by—alas! alas!—“great numbers of those who engage in trade and manufactures.”
Of the difficulties which he had to struggle with, in his endeavours to find or make any higher place for them, the magnitude is betrayed (shall we say?) or manifested, in every line: as is likewise, when all is over, the delicacy with which, to the very last, he avoided giving any direct expression to that conclusion, which having, in an unlucky moment, before the commencement of this paragraph, burst out unawares, had, throughout the whole course of it, been labouring once more to find vent and utterance. Of all these great men, if we may take the word of so good a judge, there is nothing to be made without money; nor, if it were “proper” to speak out, any great matter even with the help of it: especially in comparison of some other great men that he knows of, who, “for the acquisition and improvement of talents” necessary for the higher offices—including a consummate skill in the application of the four rules of arithmetic, and without wasting time upon any such speculative and theoretical science as logic, have had the benefit of “passing occasionally” (pour passer le tems, as the French say) “through the inferior situations.”
When the antagonists whom the right honourable gentleman has to contend with, are the offspring of his own genius, they give him little trouble.
In his 62d page, we find him setting to rights a set of men (but whether these were “among his reasonable and candid men” that he had just been meeting with, I cannot take upon me to be certain)—a set of men, however, of some sort or other, according to whose conception, the whole amount of what is levied on the people by taxes, goes to pay “sinecures and pensions:”—from which, if true, it would follow that, on so simple a condition as that of suppressing these nuisances—taxes, those still greater nuisances, might be cleared away at any time. But that any such conception is a misconception, and “consequently, although there were no sinecures or pensions, there would still be taxes,” he proves immediately beyond all dispute; and his antagonists, let them be ever so “reasonable,” have not a word more to say for themselves.
This misconception being set to rights in that his 62d page, here again in his 66th page we find him employed in instructing and undeceiving another set of men, or perhaps the same set in another dress, who are for “withholding remuneration” (meaning nothing less than all remuneration, howsoever ashamed they may be to say so) “for public services.”
A strange set of men they are, whoever they are:—and what is to be done with them? The course he takes with them (and if he does not convince them, he at least reduces them to silence) is, the setting them to think of a “principle,” which he knows of, and which, if such remunerations were withheld, “would,” he says, “be destroyed: and, the principle once destroyed,” “the community” (he concludes with an irresistible force of reasoning) “would be deprived of all its advantages.”
Now, if so it be that he really knows of any such men, it is pity but he had told us where some of them are to be seen: for as a raree-show they would be worth looking at. I, for my part, jacobin as I suppose I am—I, for my part, am not one of them. And this too I am happily enabled to prove: having, for a particular purpose, proposed some good round sums to be disposed of in this way; and that according to another plan, in my opinion of which, every day I live confirms me.
Of the only sort of thing which in his account,—at least while this paragraph lasts,—is of any value, viz. money, my plan (I speak now of that which relates to the present subject) goes somewhat further than any other which it has happened to me to see, in reducing the quantity to be administered at the public expense: and yet not even in this shape do I propose to withhold it, except in so far as the public service would be performed, not only cheaper but better without it: and, be the right honourable gentleman’s “principle” what it may, I disclaim altogether any such destructive thought, as that of “destroying” it.
All this while, a difficulty which has been perplexing me is—that of comprehending what sort of an aristocracy this new sort is, the discovery of which has been made by the right honourable gentleman, and to which, exercising the right which is acknowledged to belong to all discoverers, he has given the name of “an aristocracy of talent and of virtue.” Not that by any such description, if taken by itself, any great difficulty would have been produced, but that it is by the sort of relation, which is represented as subsisting between this sort of aristocracy and the sort of thing called money, that my perplexity is occasioned.
So far as money is concerned, “virtue,” according to what we have been used, most of us, to hear and read of at school, and at college, such of us as have been to college, consists, though not perhaps in doing altogether without money, at any rate in taking care not to set too high a value on it. But, with all its virtue, or rather in virtue of its very virtue, the aristocracy, which the right honourable gentleman has in view, is a sort of aristocracy, of which the characteristic is, that they will not (the members of it) do a stitch without money: and in their eyes, “remuneration” in any other shape is no remuneration at all. Why? Because in their eyes, to this purpose at least, nothing whatever but money is of any value.
We have seen who they are that must have been sitting for the right honourable gentleman’s kit-cat club—his “aristocracy of rank and of property:” where now shall we find the originals of his “aristocracy of talent and of virtue?”
Consulting the works of Dr. Beatson and Mr. Luffman, the only channels, the periodical ones excepted, through which, in my humble situation, a man can form any conception concerning any such “great characters,” I can find no others but Mr. Percival, Lord Eldon, Mr. Canning, Sir David Dundas, and a gentleman (right honourable, I presume) who, in Mr. Luffman’s Table of Great Characters, occupies at present his 15th column, by the description of “Mr. G. Rose.”
Meantime money—meaning public money—being, in the right honourable gentleman’s system of ætiology, the causa sine quâ non, not only of “virtue,” but of that “talent” which is found in company with virtue, and being on that score necessary to the constitution of that one of the two branches of his aristocracy, if it has two, or of the whole of it, if it is all in one,—what I would submit to him is—whether the task which, in entering upon this work, he appears to have set himself, will have been perfectly gone through with, till he has found means for securing to this talent-and-virtue branch of his “aristocracy,” a larger portion of his one thing needful than appears to have as yet fallen to its lot.
Running over, in this view, such parcels of the matter of remuneration as exceed each of them the amount of £10,000 a-year (the only part of the sinecure list a man can find time for looking over and speaking to in this view,) I find them all, or almost all of them, in possession of the “rank-and-property” branch: while the “talent-and-virtue” branch, starved and hide-bound, has found itself reduced to take up with the other’s leavings.
Need of Money for the Support of Official Dignity.
A seventh plea, and the last I have been able to find, consists in the alleged need of money for a purpose that seems to be the same with one which in other vocabularies is meant by the words “support of dignity:”* in the words of the right honourable gentleman (for, on pain of misrepresentation, the very words must be taken where words are everything,) “preservation of a certain appearance.”
“It is true,” continues he, “that magnanimity and genuine patriotic ambition will look for a nobler reward for their services than the emoluments of office; but in the present state of society, a certain appearance is essential to be preserved by persons in certain stations, which cannot be maintained without a liberal provision.”
From this paragraph, one piece of good news which we learn, or should learnat least, if it could be depended upon, is—that the time is now come when “magnanimity and genuine patriotic ambition will look for a nobler reward for their services than the emoluments of office.” So late as the moment when the last hand was put to the right honourable author’s last preceding paragraph, this moment of magnanimity was not yet arrived: down to that moment, had “remuneration” (meaning, as afterwards explained, in the shape of emolument) been withheld, “principle,” of some kind or other, would have been destroyed—and so forth.
Fortunate is this change for the country, and in particular, not a little so for the somewhat deficient plan here, by an unofficial hand, ventured to be proposed.* Here then we have it;—and from such high and competent authority,—that besides emolument, there is a something which, in the character of “reward for their services,” “magnanimity and genuine patriotic ambition” “will look for:” and (what is better still) this unspecified something is capable of being received, not only in the character of a reward, but in the character of a reward of “a nobler” sort than emolument—that sine quâ non, without which, till this paragraph of the right honourable gentleman’s was concluded, or at least begun upon, nothing was to be done.
Having this, I have all I want, and (as will be seen, and as I hope has even been seen already) even more than I mean, or have any need, to use.
Unfortunately for me, no sooner has the right honourable gentleman’s wisdom and candour and discernment obtained from him, and for my use, this concession,—than some others of his virtues, I know not exactly which, join hands and take it back again: and, though no otherwise than by implication, yet—so necessary to his argument is this implication—that, if he had taken it back in direct words, he could not have done more than he has done, if so much, towards depriving me of the benefit of it.
“But,” continues he—and now comes the retractation—“a certain appearance is essential to be preserved by persons in certain stations, which” (meaning probably which appearance) “cannot be maintained without a liberal provision.”
“In certain stations, a certain appearance:”—nothing can be more delicate,—nothing at the same time more commodiously uncertain,—than this double certainty. Meantime, if, in the meaning of the whole paragraph there be anything certain, it appears to me to be this:—viz. that on behalf of “the magnanimity and genuine patriotic ambition” which the right honourable gentleman has taken under his protection, what he claims is—that, in the account debtor and creditor, as between service and reward, this reward, which, not being emolument, is nobler than emolument (meaning, by nobler, if anything at all be meant by it, that which, in their estimate at least, is worth more) is to be set down as worth nothing: and accordingly, that the quantity of the matter of reward, which each official person is to have in the less noble, but more substantial and tangible shape, is to be exactly the same as if there were no other reward, either in their hand, or within their view.
To my plan, however, with its weak means of support, so necessary is the concession thus plainly, though but for the moment, made by the right honourable gentleman, that, with my good will, he shall never have it back again. Power, then, has its value: reputation has its value: and this, for the moment at least, has been admitted by Mr. Rose. By Mr. Rose’s evidence—by the weight of Mr. Rose’s authority—I have proved it. And now is my time for triumphing. For though neither he, nor any other right honourable gentleman, ever took his seat in any moderately full House of Commons, nor ever attended a quarter-sessions, without seeing before him gentlemen in numbers, whose conduct afforded a still more conclusive evidence of the same fact, than any verbal testimony they could have given, even though it were in black and white,—(magistrates, by the labour they bestow without emolument in the execution of their office—members, by the expense which, lawfully or unlawfully they have been at in obtaining their unemolumented seats,)—yet such is the weight of his authority, and to my humble plan, so strong the support it gives, that, having seized the fortunate moment, and got possession of the evidence, I can do no less than make the most of it.
Now, then (say I,) whatever it be that these valuable things are worth, so much, in the account as between reward and service, let them be set down for: nor shall even the ingenuity of the right honourable gentleman enable him to object any want of “fairness” to my estimate, leaving, as my plan does, to his protégé (the proposed official person himself) to make out his own estimate—to fix his own value upon the non-emolumentary part of his reward. The more he chooses to have in the more “noble” shape, the less may he be content to receive in the less noble shape: how much he will have of each, rests altogether with himself: and, so long as—with its bitters in one hand, and its sweets in the other—the office cannot upon my plan be put into his hands without his own consent, what ground for complaint anybody can make for him, is more than I can see.
“Certain appearance?” For what purpose is it that this certain appearance, whatever it be, is so “essential to be preserved?” Is it for commanding respect?
In common arithmetic—in the sort of arithmetic that would be employed in a plain man’s reasoning, be the article what it may—respect or anything else—if there be divers sources or efficient causes of it,—money, for instance, and power and reputation,—to command the necessary or desirable quantity, whatever be that quantity, the more you have from any one source, the less you need to have from the others, or from any other.
“In the present state of society” (for it is to that that the right honourable gentleman calls for our attention,) unfortunately for us vulgar, this arithmetic—this vulgar arithmetic—is not the arithmetic of “high situation:” it is not the arithmetic of St. James’s: it is not the arithmetic of the House of Lords: it is not the arithmetic of the House of Commons: it is not the arithmetic of the treasury: it is not the arithmetic of office,—of any office, by which a more convenient species of arithmetic can be employed instead of it. In particular, it is not (so we learn, not only from this paragraph, but from the whole tenor of the work of which it makes a part) the arithmetic of the navy treasurer’s office. According to this higher species of arithmetic, the more you have been able to draw from any one of these same sources, the more you stand in need of drawing from every other. Power, not indigence, is the measure of demand.
Have you so many hundred thousands of pounds in money? Having this money, you have power. Having this money with this power, it is “essential” you should have dignity. Having this dignity, you have that which requires money—more money—for the “support” of it. Money, power, dignity; money, power, dignity,—such, in this high species of arithmetic, is the everlasting circulate.
Are you in a “certain station?” Whatsoever you have power to spend, and at the same time inclination to spend, this is what the right honourable treasurer is ready to assure you, it is “indispensably necessary” you should spend. This is what, if your patience will carry you to the next section of this humble comment, or to the next page of the right honourable text, you will see stated by the right honourable “discharger of trusts and public duties,”—and in terms, of which, on any such score as that of want of distinctness or positiveness, no just complaint can be made.
Concerning the late Mr. Pitt’s Expenditure—the Impropriety of Economy, how far proved by it.
Immediately upon the back, and, as it should seem, for the more effectual ascertainment of this so unfortunately uncertain, though double, certainty, comes the grand example already above referred to: that one example,—in which we are to look for whatsoever explanation is to be found—for whatever is not inexplicable, in the right honourable author’s theory. And this example proves to be the rate, and quantum, and mode of expenditure (private expenditure) observed and here stated by the right honourable gentleman in the instance of the late Mr. Pitt.
“That great statesman,” says he,* “who was ‘poor amidst a nation’s wealth,’ whose ambition was patriotism, whose expense and whose economy were only for the public, died in honourable poverty. That circumstance,” continues he, “certainly conveys no reproach upon his memory; but when he had leisure to attend to his private concerns, it distressed him seriously to reflect that he had debts, without the means of paying them, which he could not have avoided incurring, except from a parsimony which would have been called meanness, or by accepting a remuneration from the public, which his enemies would have called rapacity; for he had no expense of any sort that was not indispensably necessary, except in improvements in his country residence, where his house was hardly equal to the accommodation of the most private gentleman.”
That the logic of our right honourable author is not altogether so consummate as his arithmetic, is a suspicion that has been already hazarded: and here perhaps may be seen a confirmation of it.
The proposition undertaken by him to be proved was a pretty comprehensive one; its extent not being less than the entire field of office, considered in respect of the several masses of official emolument comprised in it. This it was that he took for his subject: adding for his predicate, that these incomes were and are not one of them sufficient,—not one of them, all things considered, sufficient to all purposes.†
For proof of this his universal proposition, in so far as it is in the nature of example to afford proof, he gives us one example: one example, and but one. The one office, in the instance of which, if insufficiency of emolument be proved, such insufficiency is to be accepted as proof, and that conclusive, of equal or proportionable insufficiency in the case of all the rest, is the office of Prime Minister: an office, the emolument of which is composed of the emolument attached to two offices, which, when the parliamentary seat of the official person is in the House of Commons, have commonly been, and in the instance of the said Mr. Pitt were, holden in one hand.
To complete the right honourable author’s argument, there remains for proof but one other proposition, and that is—the insufficiency of this compound mass of emolument in the instance of the said Mr. Pitt: and the medium of proof is composed of this fact; viz. that, being so in possession of this mass of annual emolument, he the said Mr. Pitt spent all this money of his own, together with no inconsiderable mass,—amount not mentioned,—of other people’s money besides.
Assuming, what nobody will dispute, that Mr. Pitt died in “poverty,” that which by his right honourable friend is observed and predicated of this poverty is, that it was “honourable” to him: which, being admitted or not admitted, the right honourable gentleman’s further observation, that it “certainly conveys no reproach to his memory,” shall, if it be of any use to him, be admitted or not admitted likewise.
Had this been all, there would certainly at least have been no dishonour in the case: a man who has no family, nor any other person or persons, having, on the score of any special relation, any claim upon his bounty, whether it be his choice to expend the whole of his income, or whether it be his choice to lay up this or that part of it, nobody surely can present any just ground for complaint.
But, in addition to that which was his own to spend or save, Mr. Pitt having spent money of other people’s in round numbers to the amount of £40,000 more: and this mode of expenditure having in so unhappy a way been rendered notorious, rich and poor together having been forced to contribute to make up to this division of the rich the loss they had been content to run the risk of, something was deemed advisable to be said of it.
In strictness of argument, some readers there may be perhaps, in whose view of the matter it might be sufficient here to observe—that, admitting the fact, unhappily but too notorious, of Mr. Pitt’s spending other people’s money—admitting this fact in the character of a proof, and that a conclusive one, that the mass of emolument attached to the two offices he filled was not sufficient for the one official person by whom those two offices were filled, the proof would not extend beyond that one pair of offices; and, the number of offices being unhappily to be counted by thousands, perhaps even by tens of thousands, and this highest of offices, in point of power, differing more widely from the general run of offices than perhaps any other that could have been found, the proposition has much the air of remaining in rather worse plight than if nothing in the character of proof had been subjoined to it.
On this footing might the matter perhaps be found to stand, if viewed in a point of view purely and dryly logical. But forasmuch as, notwithstanding, or rather by reason of, its profuseness, the expenditure of this one official person is by his right honourable friend held out as an example; not merely as an example for illustration, but as a pattern for imitation:—for imitation by official persons in general,—for imitation in respect of the quantum of emolument necessary to be allotted out of the taxes, and attached to their respective offices,—an observation or two shall here be hazarded, respecting the conclusiveness of the right honourable author’s argument with reference to this collateral and practical part of it.
The wry neck of the hero having in this way rendered itself too conspicuous to be concealed by any artifice, what was left to the panegyrist was to make a beauty of it. The expense of this repair has surely not been inconsiderable: for here it is not [Editor: illegible word] only, but morality and policy, that have been made to share in it. Our assent being secured for so unexceptionable a proposition, as that, in the circumstance in question, poverty is honourable, the next contrivance is to slip in and get the benefit of our assent extended to one other proposition, viz. (as if there were no difference) that spending other people’s money was honourable; and thus it is that our approbation is to be engaged for the practice and policy of giving encouragement to such honourable conduct, by tokens of parliamentary approbation bestowed at the public expense.
“Necessary,” with its conjugate “necessity,” and its near of kin “essential,” are words of no small convenience to the right honourable gentleman: of such convenience, that that thing (it should seem) could not be very easy to be found, which the same, being convenient to official persons in official situations, is not, by and in virtue of such convenience, under and by virtue of the right honourable author’s system of ontology, rendered “necessary.”
Even to a man, who had not quite so much as £8000 a-year of his own to spend,* a mode of expenditure, which, in whatsoever degree convenient, would (one should have thought) have presented the least satisfactory claim to the appellation of necessary, is that which consists in spending money of other people’s.
Two rocks the reputation of the hero found his course threatened by: two rocks, meanness and rapacity, one on each side: and the expenditure of other people’s money—this was the harbour in which, to avoid this Scylla and this Charybdis, he took refuge.
Had the expenditure of the hero been confined to the sum which by the competent authorities had been deemed sufficient, such limitation would, from the justice of the right honourable panegyrist himself, notwithstanding his “just partiality,” have received a gentle reprimand, couched under the term “parsimony,” and his imagination has found somebody else to call it meanness; had he, for those extraordinary services which we hear so much of, “accepted” as “a remuneration from the public,” any of those sinecures which, in such unhappy abundance, he saw lavished on men who could not produce so much as the pretence of even the most ordinary service; the same industrious and fruitful imagination has found him friends, in the character of “enemies,” to “call it rapacity:”—to avoid this charge of meanness it is, that he places himself in a state of dependence under traders of various descriptions,—the butcher, the baker, the fishmonger, not to speak of the political intriguer;—to avoid the charge of rapacity it is, that what he obtains from those people, he obtains from them on the pretence of meaning to pay them, knowing that he has not wherewithal, and nobly, constantly, and heroically determined never to “accept” it.
As to distress, while the distress confined itself to those plebeian breasts, this right honourable breast knew no such inmate: but when “some debts pressed so severely upon him as to render it necessary for some of his most private and intimate friends to step in and save him from immediate inconvenience,” when, in plain English, he had or was afraid of having executions in his house, then it was that the distress became contagious—then it was that “it distressed him seriously to reflect that he had debts.”
When—of a necessity, or of anything else, the existence being asserted by a gentleman, and as of his own knowledge, and that so right honourable a gentleman,—an obscure person—who, having no such honour, nor any chance of producing persuasion by any other means than such as his own weak reason may be able to supply—has, after, and notwithstanding, all this form of assertion, the misfortune to feel himself still unsatisfied, it is natural to him to look around him for whatever support may anywhere be to be found:—parliament—the opinion of parliament—should it be found on his side, will that stand him in any stead?
Such, as we have seen, is the opinion of Mr. Rose. But parliament—on this same point, what is it that has been the opinion of parliament? Why, the opinion of parliament is—that what Mr. Pitt had was sufficient: that more than he had was not necessary:—was not of that “indispensable necessity” which has been brought on the carpet, by the zeal, assisted by the imagination, of Mr. Rose.
Unfortunately for the right honourable panegyrist—unfortunately for his opinions—unfortunately for his assertions—this point, this very point did,—and on the very occasion he speaks of—come under the cognizance and consideration of parliament. The emolument which is found annexed to these two offices, both of which had been held at the same time by Mr. Pitt,—this emolument, had it been deemed insufficient for the “official man” in question—viz. for the species of official man,—would thereupon of course have received an augmentation: in the instance of this official person, the subject would have received those marks of attention, which have so frequently been asked for, and so constantly been given for asking for, in the case of the judges.
Was it, that by the case of this distinguished individual, any demand was presented for any greater mass of emolument than there was likely to be an equally cogent demand for, in the case of any successor of his in the same situation? It seems not easy to conceive a case, in which, all things considered, that demand can ever be so small. True it is, his private fortune was—his station in life considered—barely sufficient for independence. But, he had no wife—no child:—he was, in deed as well as in law, completely single: and, in the right honourable gentleman’s own arithmetic,—which on this head differs not much, it must be confessed, from the vulgar arithmetic,—the demand for money, on the part of the father of a family, is as the number of persons it is composed of.
Over and above his £8000 a-year, augmented, during half his political life, by his sinecure, to £12,000, what is it that he could want money for?—more money (for that is here the question) than would be wanted by or for any of his successors in power and office? Was it to buy respect and reputation with? Deserved and undeserved together, no man in his place, unless it was his father, ever possessed a larger share of those valuable commodities, than this second William Pitt. Had he been in the case of the good-humoured old driveller, who gave so much trouble to Pitt the first, and whom his Majesty’s grandfather was so loth to part with or suffer to be elbowed,—in that case there would have been on his part a great deficiency in those essential articles; and if, like seats, they had been an object of purchase, and public money the proper sort of money to be employed in the purchase, no small quantity of such money would, in that case, have been necessary.
In the way of experiment—in the endeavour to make this purchase, money, though the man’s own, and not public money, was, in the duke’s case, actually employed, and in memorable and still-remembered abundance: but how completely the experiment failed, is at least as well remembered.
To return to the deficiency of the sort in question, supposed to have been, on the more recent occasion, displayed in the same place. This deficiency, then,—such as it was and still is—parliament, in the case of Mr. Pitt, did not, so long as he lived, think fit to supply: at any rate, left unsupplied. What was done was—the giving a mass of public money—to the amount of £40,000 or thereabouts—among a set of people, names undisclosed, but said to be the deceased minister’s creditors. Friends remembered their friendships: enemies, now that the enemy was no longer in their way, forgot their enmity: friends and enemies vied in sentimentality—vied in generosity—always at the public expense: and a justification, yea, and more than a justification, was thus made, for the cases of the still future-contingent widow of Lord Grenville, and the then paulo-postfuture widow of Mr. Fox.
Should it here be asked why those trustees of the people chose to saddle their principals with the payment of debts, for which they were not engaged, and the necessity of which they themselves could not take upon themselves to pronounce,—my answer is—that if anything in the shape of an efficient, final, or historical cause will satisfy them, plenty may be seen already:—but if by the word why, anything like a justificative cause—a rational cause—a good and sufficient reason—be meant to be asked for, I for my part know of none. At the same time, for the support of the proposition that stands on my side of the argument—it being the negative—viz. that for no such purpose as that of encouraging and inducing ministers to apply to their own use the money of individuals, can it ever be necessary that money raised by taxes should be employed—for the support of any proposition to this effect—so plain does the proposition seem to me, that neither can I see any demand for a support to it in the shape of a reason, nor in truth should I know very well how to go about to find one. Not thus clear of all demand for support is the side taken by the right honourable gentleman. By his vote and influence whatsoever on that occasion was done, having been supported and encouraged, on him, in point of consistency, the obligation is incumbent: he stands concluded, as the lawyers say, in both ways: on the one hand, not having ventured to propose any correspondent addition, or any addition at all, to be made to the mass of emolument openly and constantly attached to the office, he is estopped from saying that any such extra expenditure was necessary;—on the other hand, having, in the case of the individual by whom that expenditure was made, concurred in the vote and act* passed for filling up, at the public charge, the gaps made by that same expenditure in the property of other individuals, he stands convicted by his own confession of concurring in charging the public with a burthen, the necessity of which could not be so much as pretended.
On this occasion, “may we not venture to ask,” whether this may not be in the number of those cases, in which gentlemen, honourable gentlemen, under the guidance of right honourable, have, in the words of our right honourable author, been “misled by mistaken ideas of virtue?” (p. 77.)
Be this as it may, by this one operation, which is so much to the taste of the right honourable gentleman—(not to speak of so many other right honourable, honourable, and even pious gentlemen)—two distinguishable lessons, may they not be seen given—two distinguishable lessons given to so many different classes of persons, standing in so many different situations? One of these lessons, to wit, to ministers; the other to any such person or persons whose situation might enable them to form plans for fulfilling their duty to themselves, by lending money to ministers.
To ministers an invitation was thus held out, to expend upon themselves, in addition to whatever money is really necessary, as much more as it may happen to them to be disposed so to employ, of that which is not necessary.
Thus far as to the quantum:—and as to the mode, by borrowing money, or taking up goods of individuals, knowing themselves not to have any adequate means of repayment, and determining not to put themselves into the possession of any such means.
To persons at large, an invitation was at the sametime held out to become intriguers; and, by seizing or making opportunities of throwing themselves in the way of a minister, to supply him with money, more than he would be able to repay on demand, and having thus got him in a state of dependence, to obtain from his distress—always at the expense of the public—good gifts in every imaginable shape:—peerages—baronetcies—ribbons—lucrative offices—contracts—assistance in parliamentary jobs,—good things, in a word, of all sorts, for which, no money being paid or parted with, neither the giver nor the receiver would run any the slightest risk of being either punished, or in any other way made responsible.
By a loan, though, for example, it were but of £5000, if properly timed—and that on both occasions—first as to the time of the administering the supply, and then as to the time of pressing for repayment,—that, may it not every now and then be done, which could not have been done by a gift of £10,000? How often have not seats, for example, been in this way obtained—and this even without any such imputation as that of the sin, the venial sin, of parliamentary simony?
In virtue of the invitation thus given by the magnanimity and generosity of parliament,—an invitation open at all times to the acceptance of persons to whom it may happen to find themselves in the corresponding situations—who is there that does not see, how snugly the benefit of bribery may be reaped on both sides, and to any amount, without any of the risk?
A banker is made a lord. Why is a banker to be made a lord? What is it that the banker ever did, that he is to be made a lord? A merchant is made a lord. Why is a merchant to be made a lord? What is it that the merchant ever did, that he is to be made a lord?—These are among the questions which are in themselves as natural, as the answers, true or untrue, might be unpleasant to some and dangerous to others.
We have heard, many of us, of the once celebrated Nabob of Arcot and his creditors: and the mode in which their respective debts were to an as yet unfathomed extent, contracted: those debts, which, in so large a proportion, and to so large an amount, just and unjust together, in name the expiring Company, and in effect the whole body of the people, have paid, or, spite of the best possible discrimination, will have to pay.
By the example set, and lesson held out, by the virtue of the right honourable gentleman, and his right honourable and honourable coadjutors, the policy of Arcot, was it not thus sanctioned and imported into Great Britain? “Ministers, plunge your hands as deep as you can into other people’s pockets: intriguers, supply profuse and needy ministers with whatever they want, and make the most of them: we will be your sureties; our care it shall be, that you shall not be losers.”
Against the opinions of so many great characters—such has been my temerity—over and over again have I laboured to prove, I know not with what success, that money is not the only coin in which it may happen to a public man to be willing to take payment of the public for his labour: and that power and reputation,—though they will not, like shillings and halfpence, go to market for butter and eggs,—yet, like Exchequer bills, within a certain circle, they are not altogether unsusceptible of a certain degree of currency. Of the truth of this proposition, the Mr. Pitt in question affords at least one instance.
It proves indeed something more: for, in so far as purposely forbearing to receive what it is in a man’s option to receive, is tantamount to paying,—it proves that, in the instance in question, the value of these commodities was equal to that of a very considerable sum of money, in round numbers, worth £40,000—at any rate, worth more than £39,000.
Not that in the eyes of the hero, money had no value: for it had much too great a value: it possessed a value greater than the estimated value of common honesty and independence.
He loved money, and by much too well: he loved it with the love of covetousness. Not that he hoarded it, or put it out to usury. But there are two sorts of covetous men: those who covet it to keep it, and those who covet it to spend it: the class he belonged to was this coveting-and-spending class.
Yes:—that be did:—Pitt the second did love money: and not his own money merely, but other people’s likewise: loving it, he coveted it; and coveting it, he obtained it.
The debt which he contracted was so much money coveted, obtained, and expended, for and in the purchase of such miscellaneous pleasures as happened to be suited to his taste. The sinecure money which he might have had and would not have, was so much money expended in the shape of insurance money on account of power: in the purchase of that respect and reputation, which his prudence represented as necessary to the preservation of so valuable an article against storms and tempests from above. Sinecure money, to any given amount, the hero could have got for himself, with at least as much facility as for his right honourable panegyrist; but the respect and the reputation were defences, which in that situation could not be put to hazard. Of the battles he had to fight with the sort of dragons commonly called secret advisers, this bare hint is all that can be given by one who knows nothing of anybody or anything: his right honourable Achates, by whom he must (alas! how oft!) have been seen in a tottering and almost sinking attitude,—more particulars could doubtless be given, by a great many, than by a gentleman of his discretion it would . . . . (unless it were in a posthumous diary, for which posterity would be much obliged to him) be “useful on his sole authority . . . . to enter into any detail of.” It was to enable virtue to rise triumphant out of all these trials, that the amount of all this sinecure money was thus expended, and without having been received.
On the subject of influence (page 74,) what the right honourable gentleman admits, is—that owing to the greatly increased revenue, and all the other augmented and “accumulated business of the state,” some increase has, though “unavoidably, been occasioned in it,” viz. by “increase of patronage.” At the same time, notwithstanding this increase, yet, in point of practice, the state of things, if we may trust to his conception, is exactly as if there were no such thing at all as influence. How so? Why, for this plain reason, viz. that “the influence created by such means is infinitely short of what,” viz. “by the measures of economy and regulation to which recourse has been had”—“has been given up.”
Thus far the right honourable author. But in the humble conception of his obscure commentator, the question between the two quantities, one of which is, in the hands of the right honourable accountant, multiplied by one of those figures of rhetoric, which, in aid of the figures of arithmetic, are so much at his command—multiplied in a word to “infinity”—this question is not, on the present occasion, the proper one. In regard to influence, the question which, with leave of the public, the obscure commentator would venture to propose—as and for a more proper one, is—whether, for any existing particle of this influence, any preponderant use can, in compensation for the acknowledged evil consequences of it, be found? and if not, whether there be any, and what, quantity of it left remaining, that could be got rid of? Understand, on each occasion, as being a condition universally and necessarily implied—without prejudice in other respects,—and that preponderant prejudice—to the public service.
As to these points, what appears to me, with submission, is—that, without travelling out of this the right honourable gentleman’s own work, an instance might be found of a little sprig of influence, which, without any such preponderant prejudice to Mr. Reeve’s tree, might be pruned off.
This work of his (I mean Mr. Rose’s) has for its title—“Observations respecting the Public Expenditure, and the Influence of the Crown.”
But unfortunately, as, in due place and time, the candour of the right honourable gentleman himself, in effect, acknowledges, these observations of his—and from so experienced an observer—are all on one side.
On the subject of expenditure, out of 79 pages, 61 have been expended in showing us what retrenchments have been made, and how great they are. Are they indeed so great? So much the better: but even yet, considering that if we may believe the right honourable gentleman himself (p. 62,) the whole revenue of Great Britain is “more than £60,000,000 a-year,” let the retrenchments have been ever so great, the demand for further retrenchment, wheresoever it can be made, without preponderant prejudice to the public service, seems by no means to be superseded.
Subject to that necessary condition, is there any such further retrenchment practicable? This is exactly what the right honourable gentleman has not merely avoided, but positively refused to tell us.
From first to last, this work of his has, according to the author’s own account of it, but one aim; and that is, by showing how great the retrenchments are that have been made already, to stop our mouths, and prevent our calling for any more. Is it then true, that in this way all has been done that ought to be done? Even this, not even in terms ever so general, will he vouchsafe to tell us. “To what extent or in what manner it may be proper to press further retrenchment, the author,” says he, p. 62, “has not the remotest intention of offering an opinion: his view has been clearly explained.”
Looking for the explanation, the clearness of which is thus insisted on, I find it, if I do not mistake, in his last preceding page but one, viz. in p. 60, in which, speaking of this his work by the name of “the present publication,”—“In endeavouring to set right the public opinion on this subject, the performance of an act of justice to any administration, is,” he says, “but a small part of its use; a much more important consideration is, its effect in producing that salutary and reasonable confidence, which gives the power of exertion to the government, and that concurrence which seconds its exertions among the people.”
Thus far the right honourable author. For my own part, if my conception concerning a government’s title to confidence be not altogether an erroneous one, this title depends in no inconsiderable degree on its disposition “to press further retrenchments:” (p. 62.) I mean of course, in so far as, in the judgment of that government, they are not otherwise than “proper” ones. Yet this the right honourable gentleman—a member of this same government, and that in the very next rank to the highest, and receiving (besides sinecure money) no less than £4000 a-year for being so, peremptorily—and, as we have seen, of his own accord,—refuses to do.
He will not do any such thing; and why not? On this point we might be apt to be at a stand at least, if not at a loss, were it not for the lights with which, in another page (p. 74) the right honourable author himself has favoured us. His “opinions” on the subject, he there acknowledges, are “strong ones;” but strong as they are, or rather because they are so strong, he will not let us know what they are; because “on his sole authority,” that is, unless other opinions that in the scale of office stand yet higher than his, concurred with his, “it would not be useful:”—there would be no use in it. No use in it? what! not on a subject of such vital importance—when, for the declared purpose of “setting right the public opinion on this subject,” a right honourable author, who knows all about it, takes up the pen, can it be that there would be no use in speaking what he thinks is right? and as much of it as he has to speak? No use in his speaking impartially?—in speaking on both sides, and on all sides, what he thinks?
But not to go on any further in thus beating the bush, may we not in plain English venture to ask—at the bottom of all his delicacy, can any other interpretation be found than this, viz. that by those, for whose defence and for whose purposes—and, to come to the point at once—under whose influence this work of his was written, his speaking as he thinks, and what he thinks right—his speaking out on both sides, would it in his own persuasion have been found not endurable?
If so, here then we have a practical illustration and development of a number of preceding hints. Here we see the character—here we see one effect and use—of that “aristocracy of talent and virtue” with which, in the account of remuneration, nothing but money will pass current—nothing but money is of any value—and which constitutes so necessary an addition to the “aristocracy of rank and property.”
Here we see what is, and what we are the better for, the fruit of “that principle of activity,” (p. 66,) which animates men in the attainment, so much more than in the mere possession of power and station, “and of that amusement, which, for the acquisition and improvement of talents necessary for the higher offices, gentlemen have given themselves, in passing occasionally through the inferior situations.”
“Of the unpopularity and ridicule that has so often been attempted to be fixed on the word confidence,” the right honourable gentleman has, as he is pleased to inform us, according to his own statement (p. 61,) had “some experience.” One little item, to whatsoever may have been the stock laid up by him of that instructive article, he may find occasion to make. To that sort of confidence which is “unthinking and blind,” this “unpopularity and ridicule,” he appears to look upon as not altogether “inapplicable,” nor consequently the sort of “attempt” he speaks of, viz. that of fixing it on the word confidence, as altogether incapable of being attended with success.”
But can anything be more “unthinking and blind” than that confidence which should bestow itself on an official man, howsoever right honourable, who, in treating of a subject confessedly of high national importance, and after furnishing, in favour of one side, whatsoever information his matchless experience, his unquestioned ingenuity, his indefatigable industry, can rake together,—and feeling, on the other side of his mind, “opinions”—and those “strong ones,” nor doubtless unaccompanied with an adequate knowledge of facts—of those facts from which they receive their existence and their strength—should refuse—deliberately, and peremptorily, as well as spontaneously, refuse—to furnish any the least tittle of information from that other side.
Eloquent and zealous in support of profusion, mute when the time should come for pleading in favour of retrenchment, not without compunction let him behold at least one consequence. Destitute of all competent, of all sufficiently qualified, of all officially qualified, advocates—deserted even by him who should have been its solicitor-general, thus it is that the cause of economy is left to take its chance for finding here and there an advocate among low people, who have never been regularly called to this high bar: interlopers, who, destitute of all prospect of that “remuneration” which is the sole “principle of activity that animates men in the attainment of power and station” (p. 66.) destitute of the advantage of “passing occasionally through even the inferior situations” (p. 66,) are destitute of all “talent,” destitute of all “virtue,”—and whose productions, if, for the purpose of the argument, they could for a moment be supposed capable of contributing, on the ground here in question, anything that could be conducive to the public service, would, one and all, be so many effects with out a cause.
CONCERNING PECUNIARY COMPETITION—AND THE USE MADE OF THE PRINCIPLE.
Before the subject of influence is dismissed, a word or two may, perhaps, have its use, for the purpose of endeavouring to submit to the consideration of the right honourable panegyrist, an article of revenue, viz. crown lands, which neither on his part, nor on the part of his hero, seems to have received quite so much attention as could have been wished.
To the purpose of the present publication, a circumstance that renders this article the more material is—that it may contribute to render more and more familiar to the eye of the reader a principle, on a due estimation of which the plan hereafter to be proposed depends for everything in it, that either promises to be in its effect eventually useful, or is in its application new.
Economy and purity—reduction of expense, and reduction of undue influence—in these may be seen the two distinguishable and distinguished, though intimately connected, objects, to which, speaking of the principle of competition, our right honourable author speaks of it as having been meant to be made subservient, and as having accordingly been made subservient, in the hands of Mr. Pitt—(p. 26.)
“Mr. Pitt,” he informs us, p. 25, “looking anxiously to reforms, effected many even considerable savings—and at the same time sacrificed an influence as minister, much more dangerous than any possessed by the crown, because more secret and unobserved; the extent of it indeed could be known only to himself and to those in his immediate confidence. We shall state,” continues he, “the measures in their order,—beginning with loans and lotteries,—proceeding with private contracts, and closing this part of the account with the profit derived from the mode irrevocably established respecting the renewals of crown leases. In each of which cases, the influence diminished was not only extensive, but was obviously in its nature more objectionable than any that could be acquired by the disposal of offices; as the effect of the former was secret and unobserved, whereas the latter is apparent and generally known.”
Coming to crown lands (p. 34.) “The last head of saving by management,” says he, “is under that of the estates of the crown. The act of the 1st of Queen Anne,* continued at the beginning of each succeeding reign, for limiting grants of crown lands to 31 years, put a stop to the actual alienation of the property of the crown; but, in its operation, had the effect of greatly adding to the influence of it, and certainly afforded no protection whatever to its revenues, as will be seen in the note below.† In reigns antecedent to that of Queen Anne, when grants were perpetual, the persons to whom they were made became immediately independent of the crown, and not unfrequently gave very early proofs of that independence: whereas, by the measure adopted on the accession of the Queen, every grantee, or the person representing him, became dependent on the minister for a renewal of his lease, for which applications were generally made at such times, and on such occasions, as were thought to afford the best hope of their being attended to, on terms favourable to his interest.
“Under this system Mr. Pitt, on coming into office, found the whole landed property of the crown, and the income arising from if, in every way, very little exceeding £4000 a-year.
“He therefore, after long inquiries, and most attentive consideration, applied a remedy in 1794, when an act was passed,‡ by which it is provided that no lease shall be renewed till within a short period of its expiration, nor till an actual survey shall have been made by two professional men of experience and character, who are required to certify the true value of the premises to the treasury, attested on their oaths. No abuse can therefore take place, nor any undue favour be shown, under the provisions of this law, unless surveyors of eminence in their line shall deliberately perjure themselves, or a treasury shall be found bold enough to grant leases, or renew them, at a less value than shall be certified to them, which could not escape immediate detection, as there is a clause in the act, requiring an account to be laid before parliament annually of what leases or grants shall have been made in the year preceding; for what terms or estates; the annual value, as returned on oath by the surveyors; the annual value of the last preceding survey; what rents shall have been reserved, or what fines paid; and upon what other considerations such leases shall have been respectively made.
“More strict provisions to guard against any evasion of the law could hardly have been devised.”
Thus far our right honourable author: a word or two now from his obscure commentator.
Where, having determined with himself to obtain for public property the best price that is to be had, Mr. Pitt pursues that principle, my humble applause follows him: but when, without sufficient reason, he turns aside from that or any other principle, then my applause stops: applause, whatever in that case perseveres in following him, will be of that sort which comes from copartners and panegyrists.
When government annuities were the commodity to be disposed of, then it was that it was the choice of Mr. Pitt to have the best price: then it was that, choosing to have the best price, he adopted the mode, and the only mode, by which that effect can be produced.
When leasehold interests in crown lands were the commodity to be disposed of, then it was that it was not the choice of Mr. Pitt to have the best price. Then it was, accordingly, that, for fear of having the best price, care was taken not to employ the mode, the only mode, by which any such effect can be produced.
To avoid giving birth to the undesirable effect in question, the expedient employed was (we see) “an actual survey, made by two professional men of experience and character, who are required to certify the true value of the premises to the treasury, attested on their oaths.”
“Under the provision of this law,” one thing the right honourable gentleman endeavours to persuade us of (p. 35)—is, that “no abuse can take place, nor undue favour be shown.” Why not? Because (says he) no such effect can take place “unless surveyors of eminence in their line shall deliberately perjure themselves or”—something else which he mentions shall take place, and which, admitting the improbability of it, I shall not repeat here.
As to perjury, the word is a strong word, and to the purpose of causing the reader to suppose that the security provided by it is a strong security, more conducive than any real lover of sincerity can be well pleased to find it. But, from the pen of a veteran in office, and in offices, and in such offices, to whom it cannot be altogether unknown, to how prodigious an extent the people of this country are made deliberately and habitually to perjure themselves—and how fond, under the guidance of priests and lawyers, the legislation and jurisprudence of this same country have been, of causing men, always without any the smallest use, deliberately to perjure themselves* —it is not without pain that a man, who has any real dislike to perjury, can behold this security held up to view in the character of a real one.
Cases there are (it is confessed with pleasure) in which this alleged security is an efficient one: as for instance, where testimony to a matter of fact is to be given, vivâ voce, in an open judicatory, and under the check of cross-examination: not that even in that case it is to the ceremony that the efficiency would be found ascribable, but to the cross-examination, and the publicity, with or without the eventual punishment. But in the case here in question, not one of all those elements of efficiency is to be found. The sort of perjury which the right honourable gentleman endeavours to make us take for a punishable offence, suppose it, for argument’s sake, committed—was ever one instance known of a man being prosecuted for it as for perjury? Great would be my surprise to hear of any such case. Would so much as an indictment lie? I have not scarched, nor to the present purpose does it seem worth while. Gross indeed must be the case, strong and clear; stronger and clearer than it seems in the nature of the case to afford—the proof by which, upon any such indictment, convinction must be produced.
Few, it is evident, are the sorts of articles—lands, houses, or any other such articles, coming under the head of crown lands, being unquestionably not of the number—few, about the value of which it may not happen to “surveyors of eminence, experience, and character” to entertain real differences of opinion; and moreover, and without the smallest imputation on that “character,” much more without the possibility of suffering as for perjury, to agree in assigning such a value, as to a very considerable amount—according to circumstances, say 5, 10, 12, 15, 20, 50 per cent. (in short, one knows not where to stop) greater or less than what in their opinions respectively is the true one.
The real value of the premises is the joint result of some half dozen (suppose) of circumstances on each side: whereupon, on one side (suppose again) this or that little circumstance, somehow or other, fails of being taken into the account. Unless the human understanding were that perfect kind of machine which everybody acknowledges it not to be, who could think of speaking of it as importing so much as a speck upon a man’s character, that any such little oversight has taken place? Meantime, the profit by the oversight may amount to thousands of pounds in any number.
Unfortunately for economy, still more unfortunately for uncorruption, the sort of contract here in question is one of those in which, with a pre-eminent degree of force, interest and opportunity join, in securing to the subject of valuation a false or under-value. What the one party, viz. the proposed lessee wants, is money; what the other party, the “discharger of duties and public trusts,” wants, is influence. If the valuation be deficient, then, in proportion to the deficiency, both parties have what they want. Under a state of things so favourable to mutual accommodation, let any one, who feels bold enough, undertake to set a limit to the loss liable to be produced to the public by the substitution of this mode of sale, to the only one which is capable of finding out the real value. In a fancy article, such as a villa, or a site for a villa, cent. per cent. may be below the difference. Ten per cent.—to put, for argument’s sake, a certain amount for an uncertain one—will surely be regarded as a very small allowance.
In this ten per cent., then, may be seen the amount of the saving, or the acquisition, call it which you please, which on the occasion is question might have been made to the public, and was not made.
Thus much as to revenue. Then as to influence, “some judgment,” as Mr. Rose observes, p. 37, “may be formed by observing, that of the persons holding crown leases when the act was passed, upwards of eighty were members of one or the other house of parliament; and it is hardly necessary to add,” continues he, “that in the cases of other lessees, the parties, who might have the means of doing so, would naturally resort to solicitations of friends for obtaining the minister’s favour.”
Now, in the picture thus drawn of the state of the case, as it stood at that time—drawn by so experienced and expert a hand—so far as concerns influence, I, for my own part, till some distinct ground of difference is brought to view, cannot but see a picture equally correct of the state of the case as it stands at this moment; at this moment, viz. after and notwithstanding—not to say by reason of—the reform thus lauded. So far indeed as concerns revenue, I cannot doubt but that a very considerable change—and, so far as it goes, a change for the better, has been made; a change, for the amount of which I take of course the account given of it by Mr. Rose. But, so far as concerns influence, what I should not expect to find is, that any change, worth taking into account, had taken place. “Eighty,” according to the right honourable gentleman, is the number of members so circumstanced at that time; eighty,—or rather, from that increasing division, which landed property, where it will serve for building, or even for sites of villas, naturally admits of, more than eighty—is the number which I should expect to find at present; not to speak of expectants, for whom, where the purpose of the argument requires it, the right honourable arguer knows so well how to take credit. For convincing an honourable or right honourable gentleman of the superiority of one ministry over another, ten per cent. upon any given sum will not, it is true, serve so effectually in the character of a persuasion, as thirty per cent.: but wherever the ten per cent. suffices, the abolished twenty per cent. would have been but surplusage, since thirty per cent. could do no more. The case of the villa contiguous to Chelsea Hospital—a case which, though it happened so long ago as the last session, is not yet, it is hoped, altogether out of recollection—may serve, and as well as half a hundred, for clearing and fixing our ideas on this subject. From that case may be formed some judgment, whether the impossibility of “abuse and undue favour” is quite so near to complete, as it would be for the convenience of the right honourable gentleman’s acknowledged purposes that we should believe it to be.
All this while, a circumstance which has contributed in no small degree to that composure and tranquil confidence, of which my readers, if I happen to have any, may on this occasion have observed the symptoms, is—a surmise in which I have all along been indulging myself,—viz. that between the opinions of the right honourable author and those of his obscure commentator there does not, on this occasion, exist at bottom any very considerable difference.
“More strict provision to guard against any invasion of the law could hardly,” says the right honourable author, “have been devised.” But it will be for the reader to judge, whether the law in question be quite so well guarded against evasion, as, by this saving word hardly, the argument of the right honourable gentleman is guarded against any such impertinent charge as that of having said the thing that is not. Neither on this nor on any other occasion, could it easily have escaped a sagacity such as his, that a mode of sale, the sure effect of which is to perpetuate a constantly inferior price, is not quite so favourable either to increase of revenue or to diminution of influence, as a mode of sale, the sure effect of which is—to obtain, on each occasion, the very best price.
Pecuniary competition—auction—having, and in other instances to so great an extent—by this same hero, and with the special applause of this same panegyrist, been employed, as and for the best-contrived mode or instrument for obtaining, for such articles as government has to dispose of, the very best price—having been applied, and with so much success, in the case of government annuities—having been applied, and with so much success, in the case of contracts for stores—(for when there is no fraud, it is in form only, and not in effect, that, in this case, there is any difference between competition and auction in the common acceptation of the word)—and, moreover, in the case of the very sort of article here in question—in the case of lands—sale of leasehold interests presenting themselves to view in every newspaper, and even letting by auction in the first instance having nothing new in it, it would be a most instructive explanation, to us whose station is without doors, if in his next edition the right honourable author would have the goodness to inform us how it happened, that when, in the course of her voyage, economy had reached the latitude of the crown lands, she all of a sudden stopped short, and, instead of the best instrument for fishing out the best price, took up with so weak and ill-contrived an one. Is it that in the case of lands, auction is less well adapted than in the case of goods to an obtainment of the best price?—less well adapted to the obtaining that best price for leasehold interest in lands, to be paid for in money, than for money to be paid for in goods? On the contrary, in the case of goods, to be supplied to government by contract, as in the case in question, with the benefit of competition, the right honourable gentleman, if not already informed, might with little difficulty be informed of cases upon cases, in which the rigour of the principle of competition receives a very convenient softening, from expedients which have no application in the case of lands.
In default of such full and authentic lights, as nothing short of the experience, joined to the condescension, of the right honourable gentleman, would afford us, it may be matter of amusement at any rate, if of nothing better,—to us whose station is on the outside of the curtain,—to figure to ourselves, in the way of guess and pastime, what, on the occasion in question, may have been passing behind it.
Before so desirable a head of reform as that in question could be brought even into the imperfect state dressed up as above by the ingenuity of our right honourable author, “long inquiries, and most attentive consideration,” we are informed by him, p. 35, took place. Of these “long inquiries,” no inconsiderable portion, if one who knows nothing may be allowed to guess, were naturally directed to so desirable an object as that of knowing what, in case of a change of the sort proposed, the eighty members, of whom we have seen him speaking, would be disposed to think of it: and of the “attentive consideration,” no inconsiderable portion (it is equally natural to suppose) was bestowed upon the objections, which an innovation of this sort could not but have given birth to in so many honourable and right honourable minds.
With a set of hobgoblins, known among schoolboys by the collective appellation of the secret advisers of the crown—and of whom certain sceptics (such has been the growth of infidelity!) have of late (it seems) been found Arians or Socinians enough to question the existence,—our author’s hero, there cannot be any doubt, supposing them always to have had existence, must have had to fight, on this, as on many other occasions, many a hard battle. Of such warfare, the result, on the occasion here in question, seems to have been a sort of compromise. To restraint upon the dilapidation of the revenue, Fee, Faw, Fum could be, and accordingly were brought to submit;—and thus it was that sale, grounded on collusive valuation, was substituted to absolute gift. To the diminution of influence, Fee, Faw, Fum could not, and would not be brought to submit: they would have gone off to Hanover or to Hampshire first:—and thus it was that sale, grounded on collusive valuation, was preferred to sale for the best price.
[* ]In the Pamphleteer, No. XVII. Jan. 1817.
[* ]Observations respecting the Public Expenditure and the Influence of the Crown; by the Right Honourable George Rose—London, 1810.
[† ]As to the method pursued in the present instance—whether it was that, by the statesman in question, no such elaborate art, having here, as there, been employed in wrapping up peccant matter in splendid language—or in short, howsoever it happened, so it has happened that the course taken on that occasion by the commentator, so far as concerns the prefixing interpretations to text, has not been pursued here. But, to avoid all design, as well as charge, of misrepresentation the same care that was taken there has been continued here, viz. that of not hazarding in any instance anything in the shape of a comment, without laying at the same time before the reader, in the very words, whatever passage served or contributed to form the ground of it.
[* ]Section IX.
[* ]Burke, p. 65.
[† ]Pp. 29, 30.
[* ]Infra, § IX.
[* ]Part I. (Vide Advertisement to Defence against Burke, p. 278.)
[* ]In the Table of the Springs of Action, lately published by the author, all the principles in question may be found, with explanations, (Vide Vol. I. p. 200, et seq.)
[* ]Page 65.
[* ]Finance Committee, 1797-8;—do. 1807-8.
[* ]The plan here, as elsewhere alluded to, is the plan, the publication of which was suspended as above.
[* ]Page 67.
[† ]“If we look to official incomes, it will be found they are, in most cases, barely equal to the moderate, and even the necessary expenses of the parties: in many instances, they are actually insufficient for these. May we not then venture to ask, whether it is reasonable, or whether it would be politic, that such persons should, after spending a great part of their lives with industry, zeal, and fidelity, in the discharge of trusts and public duties, be left afterwards without reward of any sort, and their families entirely without provision?”—Page 64.
—15th Report from the Select Committee on Finance, 1797, Appendix C, page 20. Add house-rent, coals, and candles.
[* ]46 Geo. III. cap. 149, § 15.
[* ]1 Anne, st. 1, c. 7.
[† ]“In fifteen years, to 1715, the whole income from crown lands, including rents, fines, and grants of all sorts, was £22,624 equal to £1,500 a-year—Journals of H. C., vol. xx. p. 520; and in seven years, to 1746, was £15,600, equal to £2,228 a-year—Journals, vol. xxv. p. 206.”
[‡ ]34 Geo. III. cap. 75.
[* ]See “Swear not at all,” &c. by the Author, Vol. V. p. 189, et seq.