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manner, which I much more disapprove of, because it has effected double mischief. My countrymen, the Scotch lords, have not only got part of it for their votes, but for doing worse, for influencing the elections in that part of the kingdom; and by that means, sending us members to this House. They are chosen themselves by the minister for the time being. They, in return, chuse representatives for the people; they send their choice here, not to vote or act according to opinion or conscience, but as their patrons direct them. In a few lines, three millions of money are set down, without a single voucher; which is no more than saying, “We have received so much ; we have paid so much ; the balance is so much against us; and consequently we owe so much.” This I will venture to contend, is no account; and if prudence is to govern us, and we are to pay the debt incurred without account, for God’s sake let us not depart from every rule of usage, justice, and common sense, by voting an addition without account; or till some grounds are laid before us, to shew that such an addition is necessary. Mr. Welbore Ellis took a review of the several applications made by the crown to parliament, since the Revolution, in order to shew, that it had been uniformly the custom, to grant the money required in most instances, without any account; and where accounts were presented or called for, with accounts made up in the manner now so severely censured; so it was in 1710, in 1721, and in 1725, at the accession of his late Majesty, when the 100,000l. augmentation was made to the Civil List revenue, which was then fixed at 700,000l. ; in 1747, and since the accession of his present majesty, in 1769. On all of these occasions no accounts were produced; or they were accounts like the present, shewing the gross expenditure, under the several heads. As to the secret service money, which had furnished so happy a topic for the gentleman who complained of the enormity of the expence, it just amounted to this, in fair argument: either such a head of expenditure ought, or ought not to be permitted. If it ought, it was idle to find fault with it; the very title was expressive of its true nature. It was money given for certain secret transactions, which it was proper to conceal, and supposed to be for the interest of this country. The employing this money wisely and faithfully, was en
trusted to certain persons, who were bound only by a faithful discharge of their duty; if there was any thing, then, in the objections made, it could not reach the mode of making up the account; it must be entirely personal, against those who distributed the money. If no such power ought to be intrusted to ministers, that indeed, might be a reason for discontinuing the secret service money in future; but till such a resolution was taken, it must be provided for; and from its very nature must continue to be accounted for, in the customary manner, as none other would be practicable. Colonel Barré declared, he was totally against paying the debt, or making any further addition or allowance whatever. In 1769, he recollected very well the conduct of the noble lord, who was then, as well as now, Chancellor of the Exchequer. When pressed on that occasion, from this side ..”the House, he solemnly pledged himself, that he would never come again to that House, on the same errand; that he would not advise the King to promise what he could not perform; but to endeavour to keep within bounds; and if he could not keep within the 800,000l. in that case, he should certainly advise his royal master, not by any means to o to parliament, without accompanying suc application with the most full and satisfactory accounts. Now, how has the noble lord performed his engagements with parliament and the public: He has come again to request from this House, to pay the debt incurred by the crown. He has not kept the Civil List expenditure within the bounds he promised to endeavour to limit it; but if that should prove impracticable, he has totally failed in the performance of the condition annexed; he has not accompanied the present application with the necessary accounts; and still to heighten the whole, he has come with the modest demand of 100,000l. addition, without a single document to justify his request.—The colonel next turned his attention to a certain race of animals, who were daily increasing in this country, called Contractors; and, if he was well informed, the noble lord gave every encouragement in his power to the propagation of this species of the canine and carniverous. His lordship not only tamed and domesticated them when they fawned, and cringed, and flattered; but he hunted and sought them, and never was easy till he
secured them within the pleasing toils of
expenditure, which experience has shewn were yet to be bought at the current estathe maintenance of the honour and dig- blished price, some few years since, at nity of the crown requires. If this be not 6001. per annum, 200,0001. prudently laid fair reasoning, I should be glad to know, out, would purchase a clear decisive mawhat would the negative go to prove ; but jority of that House, without even the that the minister for the time being might assistance of the present standing corps of lavish the public treasure as he pleased ; pensioners and placemen, already retained or incur debts to any amount he thought by their places, pensions, and annuities, in proper; and then come to parliament the service of government. But if admiwithout any account, or with any account, nistration, already strong enough in numhowever imperfect, and desire that the bers, should think better to lay out a part debt thus incurred might be discharged. in the purchase of the venal rotten boIs not the latter precisely the case at pre- roughs all over the kingdom, this 200,0001, sent? Was not the former exactly the case a year might be most usefully employed, in 1769? Standing, therefore, on this and the court have it in its power to make ground, I shall resist every proposition for members, and not be at the trouble, of a grant of public money, which is not ac- / bribing them. The noble lord had concompanied by the reasons which support fined the whole income of the extra reve. it, and the propriety, if not necessity of nue to the duchy of Cornwall. This was granting it; because, if some stated rule be a language totally new to him. He should not adhered to, the argument would come be glad to know what was become of the to this: that a mere incurring of a debt revenue formerly drawn from the princi. would establish a claim for its payment; pality of Wales, of the 44 per cent. duties, and he, in whom this unlimited power of vir- on the produce of the Leeward islands; tually pledging the public to the payment of the revenues of the bishopric of Osna. of whatever debts he might contract, was burgh, and those drawn from the duchy placed, would certainly hold the public of Lancaster and from Ireland. His lord. purse, to use it at his pleasure.-- Thegovern- ship, the other night, seemed to be quite. or made several observations on the encou- certain of recovering America, and countragement such a parliamentary doctrine ed on his Majesty's hereditary revenue in would give to future ministers, if assented that country as a matter of course. If so, to in the extent he heard it argued the the rents there would gradually increase; other night. The noble lord in the blue and would augment the extra revenue, ribbon knew the full operation an addition which, with the other branches of it alof 100,0001, a year would have on the un- ready enumerated, would in a few years, derstandings of some idle or sceptical if prudently managed, create an additional members ; and how effectually it would fund, that would form an ample revenue serve to oil the wheels of government, for the first crowned head in Europe. In now and then 'apt to run heavy. His the account of the secret service, it aplordship was fully apprised how many had peared, that within the last eight years tasted of the sweets extracted from the the enormous sum of 600,000l. had been Civil List revenue; how many wished to lavished under that head of expenditure, a partake more bounteously of them; and great part of which was directly issued to what a new supply the proposed aduin sir Grey Cooper and Mr. John Robinson, tion would afford. Yet able as his lord. secretaries of the Treasury; and he preship was, and ready to oblige his friends, sumed, if common sense was to govern, if he suspected the augmentation would ope- probabilities were to prevail, it must be rate contrary to his expectation, in more concluded, that all, or the greater part of instances than one; it would create soli- | the money paid into the hands of those citations for favours; it would render the gentlemen, was distributed among memhungry and unsatisfied dependants of the bers, in order to influence their voices in court, more pressing and enormous in their parliament; or at least, in order to redemands, whereas, voting against the mea. gulate their parliamentary conduct, by sure, and defeating it, would be the only enlightening their understandings. Nay, means of proving to them, that all their said he, I will not stop here, I will say, resources, through that channel, were cut that all this money has not been distrioff. In these days, a sum of nearly 200,0001. buted among the members of this House; a year was looked upon as a trifle; yet part of it has gone to my countrymen, in trifling as it might appear, when laid down the other; and yet finally operated within on the large scale of millions, if members these walls. It has been distributed in a [VOL. XIX. ]
without having recourse to the increased |. of the necessaries of life; it had een employed in corrupting both houses; it had been spent in private, as well as public pensions; in single bribes, in tem}...". gratuities. The Civil List revenue ad been drained by as many different means as want suggested, or as corruption was capable of devising. Pensions during pleasure were granted, the most sure and certain means of keeping members to their duty, by having the terrors of its being withdrawn continually suspended over their heads, as soon as ever they dared to think for themselves.
Here a great confusion arose, some cal- |
ling to order; some to take down his words; others, hear him, hear him! as soon as this had subsided a little, Mr. Marsham desired that the hon. gentleman might name the members of that House who enjoyed pensions during pleasure, as there was a statute in being, which created a disability from any person sitting there who enjoyed a pension during pleasure. Several members on the Treasury bench, and in that part of the House, desired that the words might be taken down by the clerk. Others insisted, that such a mode of proceeding was not parliamentary, for the hon. gentleman was at liberty to retract his words, if any passionate expression had fallen from him in the warmth of debate; or explain them, agreeably to the sense he meant they should convey. This argument was replied to by a general cry, loudly vociferated from the same quarter whence the noise and confusion from the beginning originated, “repeat them, repeat them : he will surely not refuse to repeat his words.” Mr. Burke endeavoured to still the uproar, by jocularly observing, that the words “influence the members” and “ increase the influence of the crown,” were the current and fashionable expressions used in the former debate, as well as the present, which substantially imported the same with the words which had now given such high offence. For his part, he could see little difference, if any, between influence and corrupt influence; and corrupt influence and downright plain corruption. He confessed, however, that the sound of the latter was coarse and impolite, when compared with the former. On this ground, therefore, the whole matter might be explained to the entire satisfaction of all parties; those who liked, and those who disliked the word “corruption:’ for though
it should be given up by one side, the sense would be still retained, and it would completely satisfy such as disapprove of it, that it was to be discarded for ever out of the parliamentary vocabulary. The hon. gentleman was a citizen, and had not attained to that height of polite phraseology, for which such as happily reside at the other end of the town are so justly distinguished; for which reason, what a courtier or an inhabitant of the west end of the town called influence, the worthy alderman, according to his gross mode of expression, very improperly called corruption.
Mr. T. Townshend said, that Mr. Sawbridge had a right to explain his words, and he was sure he would, if the House thought proper to insist on an explanation.
Mr. Sawbridge was much obliged to his friends, for the readiness they had manifested in endeavouring to prevent the displeasure of the House from falling on him; and to those who had manifested their zeal on the other side. The former he begged to acquaint, that he never meant to retract his words, or explain away their meaning; and to the latter he would now give the opportunity they seemed so anxiously to desire; he would repeat what he said at the onset. “I say, there are several members who have pensions during pleasure.” These were my words. I repeat them, and I desire, if those zealous gentlemen, who were so vociferous a few minutes since, think proper, that they may take them down. There are members of the other House who have pensions during pleasure. Without, therefore, retracting or explaining my words, I again assert, that there are members who enjoy pensions during pleasure. He then directed his attention to lord North, whom he charged in the roundest manner with squandering the national treasure, in some instances, to the very worst purposes : some of the very debt which the noble lord applied to parliament to pay off, was squandered away in hiring spies and informers, to ruin and distress innocent men; men in every light as loyal to the King, and as faithful to their country, as their persecutors would persuade the world to believe they themselves were. He then mentioned the affair of Dignam", and charged administration with the most nefarious designs, in hiring a profligate ruffian to impeach him, and several other members of both Houses, of an intention of carrying into execution the most cruel and bloody purposes. Lord North denied that administration had at all been instrumental in encouraging Dignam. He affirmed, that no money had been given to him; and that what was done by the secretaries of state was an act of office duty, which if they had neglected would have justly made them liable to the most severe censure. Every servant of the crown is, from his situation, bound to listen, though not to believe. Not to do the first, would be treachery: to be operated on by the last, on improbable or insufficient grounds, would be preposterous and absurd. What, then, was the conduct of administration ? They steered clear of both objections. They did not reject without enquiry, nor did they credit what in itself appeared to them highly improbable. They examined Dignam closely; they endeavoured to sift him to the bottom. They heard with astonishment his narrative; and perceived that it bore throughout the strongest marks of plausibility, if not authenticity. They nevertheless acted with prudence, and resorted to every precaution which wisdom could suggest in so critical a situation. They sought for collateral proofs of the truth of what he asserted in regard of others, as well as testimonies of what degree of credibility he was entitled to. They ordered him to be watched; his haunts were thereby disco
* David Brown Dignam had been recently sentenced to hard labour upon the river Thames, for obtaining money under fraudulent pretences.
Before his trial, he pretended to discover to the
vered; and what appeared from the beginning suspicious, proved soon true; he
was found out to be a villain, a liar, and an impostor; and as such was dismissed, and abandoned to his fate. He could not help observing how bitterly the worthy alderman complained of the injustice Dignam had done him, by inventing such gross
falsities; and yet the worthy alderman, at
the very instant he is stating his complaint, is himself guilty of a fault of a similar nature; he charges him, and the rest of administration, with giving Dignam money. He assured the worthy alderman, that Dignam had no money; and that he Secretary of State, a plot, which he said was formed i. several noblemen and gentlemen to assassinate the King. He pretended that Mr. Sawbridge was one. The tale was at first listened to, but in a very short time the whole was found to be an infamous falshood, entirel of his own invention. See Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 47, p. 191.
was not suborned, but offered his information voluntarily; he therefore could not otherwise account for the alderman’s assertions but by supposing, that as Dignam had asserted falsities of the alderman, he, in return, was resolved to retaliate on administration. An hon. gentleman (Mr. Burke) had employed a great deal of wit and ingenuity in reconciling the alderman's intentions and expressions, and the currency of certain words, at the different ends of the town; and with his usual philological perspicuity shewed the general acceptation of the words influence, corrupt influence, and corruption; and supposed that his city friend, as a citizen, had chosen the gross word corruption, as most agreeable to city manners. The noble lord answered a great many questions put to him from several parts of the House, relative to the accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber, Cofferer, Master of the Horse, Pensions, Annuities, Ambassadors, and Secret Service. He asked the gentlemen in opposition, if what they desired was a minute account, vouched by the petty tradesmen’s bills, the grocer, butcher, baker, &c. &c. If those were the accounts they sought, they were not, it was true, to be had, because they were unnecessary; but if they wanted a faithful and full account of the expenditure, it lay on the table for their perusal; and must, he was certain, afford ample satisfaction to every person who did not come to that House predetermined to find fault. ' Mr. For said, there was a very material difference between producing vouchers for each article, or even small sums paid to petty tradesmen, and not producing a single authority or document which was sufficient to satisfy the House, that the gross anis charged were faithfully expended under the heads in which they were charged ; and he defied his lordship, with all his wit and ingenuit v, to shew by any true criterion of distinction the least shadow of difference between an account , thus unvouched and no account. He begged the attention of the House to this single illustration of the subject of debate; what substantial difference did it make, whether the 618,000l was written off in a single line, twentv, or five hundred, when the several sums set opposite the respective items came totally unaccompanied by vouchers? He next drew a comparison between the present administration, and that of the late duke of Newcastle; and so pushed it back to the commencement of the late reign, which he contended was the most fo and glorious this nation ever beheld. t was a reign of principle throughout ; the sovereign was honest, steady, and sincere. His ministers sought his personal satisfaction and domestic quiet; and maintained the honour and dignity of the nation. Even the different parties who caballed for power, were open in their professions, faithful to the doctrines they professed, and to the persons with whom they associated. What was now the case ? Corruption and patronage had overspread the land. The King’s name was frequently prostituted by his ministers, to purposes which he was certain the sovereign was too good a man, and too great a King, ever to have sanctioned, if he had previously discovered the concealed but R. motives whence they originated. inisters disdained to pursue such appearances. Majorities were found to support the worst measures with as much alacrity as the best. The influence of the crown derived additional strength from its power over the treasury, and majorities were now called upon to make good the very rapine and plunder they had long since shared; and to create a fund in future for the same É. To finish the comparison, and ring the two reigns into a complete counterview, all principle, as well in politics, as morals, had been, since the commencement of the present reign, entirely exploded. That very formidable phalanx which now lines the treasury bench, have thrown aside their opinions the day they accepted of their appointments. Corruption sweeps every thing before it. Its power or influence, or whatever else it may be called, is almost irresistible. It is now got to its zenith. Sir Robert Walpole, it was said, was the father of corruption; the present minister is his equal, if not in abilities, at least in his art of managing parliaments. He has improved on the founder of this corrupt system; he has carried it to infinitely a greater extent. But then, he has had the address to lose half the empire, as one of the first happy consequences of his experimental improvements. Mr. Burke entered into a detail of the Civil List expenditure; compared it with that of every reign since the Revolution, particularly the late reign; and proved from a variety of documents, that the Civil List revenue, as it now stood, if properly managed, was amply sufficient to maintain the royal household in dignity, splendour, and affluence; and all the ex
pences of the civil government, upon the most generous and liberal scale: from which he drew this natural deduction, that the excess of expenditure arose from a want of economy; or was employed to carry into execution a system of bribery and corruption, which had become for several years past the great engine of government in this country. Mr. Rigby attacked opposition very violently. e said, no accounts were ever given, nor ought to be now given. That he was astonished how the noble lord could waste his time in answering all the trifling questions which had been put to him. For his part, were he in the noble lord’s situation, he would make it a rule never to answer a question put by an individual member in his place. The mimister had no occasion to waste his time so idly, and to so little purpose. If, on the other hand, the House, or the majority of it, as binding the minority, asked questions, or demanded explanations, then, indeed, it was incumbent on the minister to give such answers as were not inconsistent with his duty to his sovereign, and a faithful discharge of the particular office which he filled. He then turned his attention towards governor Johnstone, who, he said, had called for explanations, which he had no right to do. He allowed it might be the custom of that worthy venerable assembly, the parliament of Leadenhallstreet; but he trusted he should never see the day that it would be endured as a rule in that House. Their conduct respecting their own affairs, did not encourage the world to emulate the politics of Leadenhall-street. The Company would have long since been totally ruined had it not been for the interference of parliament; they became bankrupt, and were on the verge of destruction, if they had not been snatched from it by the legislature. Now that they had got a little the better of their difficulties they began to relapse, and would once more call for the aid of parliament; but he hoped parliament would no more permit themselves to be imposed upon, nor longer trust the management of the affairs of the East to a set of men who had neither the abilities to govern well, nor the honesty to execute with fidelity. Governor Johnstone replied warmly to the hon. member, and charged several passages in his speech with being no less destitute of truth and argument, than they were manifestly scurrilous and indecent.
In reply to the charge of mismanagement