of the 8th instant, and notwithstanding my great wish to forward the trade at present (as far as it may lay in my power, without intruding upon the authority of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, my master), I must confess that I found the same difficulty as the consul general did, in making out such a specific list of goods, formerly permitted to be imported into Portugal, as would set my mind, and that of all the merchants who wish to trade to the Brazils, at rest: but as I can at all times depend upon the noble and liberal principles of his Royal Highness, I hope I have hit upon a medium that will take off every difficulty, by inserting in a letter which I myself wrote to the Governor of St. Catherine's, the following postscript, which you may communicate to all persons concerned:-" Having met with an insur"mountable difficulty to ascertain every ar"ticle that was, or was not formerly admit"ted into Portugal, I must observe to you, "that in case you should find in the mani"festo signed by the Consul General, and "countersigned by me, any article that was

formerly prohibited, I beg you would as"cribe the insertion to my ignorance of the

[ocr errors]

fact, and not to any malice or bad faith on "the part of the shippers; therefore you "will be so good as to allow the sale of "them for this time, or request instructions

from the government of his Royal High"ness."-One of the causes of the difficulty in making the list you desire proceeds from the circumstance, that some goods were prohibited as being of royal manufactories or monopolies, which at present may be wanted in the Brazils, and not received from Portugal, therefore I return the list that you may frame your manifest, excluding from it the following articles which were clearly prohibited in Portugal:-Prohibited Goods.-Silks, not plain and flowered.-N. B. The uncertainty of this article is saved by the P. S. Salt, liquors and wines, not the growth of Portugal; lace of gold and silver; playing cards; cotton goods of every description.I do not know but that in future some of the above articles may be admitted, but I believe it much wiser to proceed now regularly, and to sacrifice a momentary privation to unnecessary trouble. I remain, &c. CHEVALIER DE SOUZA COUTTINHO. Mr. John Nodin, Spring-gardens. Copy of a Letter from his Excellency the Portuguese Ambassador. London, Feb. 12.

SIR,In reply to your letter of this day, I have not only to refer you to my print

ed letter to the Governor of St. Catherine's, but I am beside bound in honour not to conceal from you, nor from any of the con cerned, that in a letter, I myself wrote to the Governor, he is requested not to admit any ship to a clearance, whose master will not present to him the licence of the Privy Council, the manifest signed by me, and nry printed letter.--All my letters to the said Governor having been written in concert with his Majesty's ministers, and my report to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent, made accordingly. I do not answer for any deviation from the established regulations. I am, Sir, &c. To Mr. H. Nodin, Commercial Agent, Tower-street, London.

FRENCH PRISONERS. Communication transmitted from the Transport Office, in reply to all applications made by Prisoners of War in Englund, for Passports to enable them to return to France.

Transport Office. SIR,-The Commissioners for his Majesty's Transport Service, and for the care and custody of prisoners of war, have received your letter of the

; and in return, I am directed to acquaint you, that it is the determination of his Majesty's government not to allow any more French officers to go from this country to France, until the French government shall make some return for the very great number of French officers already sent, or shall agree to a cartel of exchange upon the fair principle of man for man, and rank for rank, according to the usual plan of civilized nations, and as repeatedly proposed by the commissioners without effect. I am, however, to acquaint you, that if the French government will send over to this country a British pri soner of equal rank to effect your exchange, or will officially certify to the commissioners, that upon your arrival in France such British prisoner shall be released, orders will immediately, on receipt of such certificate, be given for your liberation.-You will under these circumstances clearly perceive, that your detention here is entirely owing to your own government, to which any application you may think proper to make on the sub ject, will of course be duly forwarded.— As it is probable, that you may not be suffi ciently acquainted with the English lan guage, to understand perfectly this letter, a translation of it into French, is given on the other side hereof.-I am, &c.

(Signed) By the Secretary,

Printed by Cox and Baylis, No. 75, Great Queen Street, and published by R. Bagshaw, Brydges Street, Covent Garden, where former Nombers may be had; sold also by I. Budd, Crown and Miue, Pall Mall.

VOL. XII. No. 16.]


Gable, it be


"This motion of Mr. Biddulph, instead of at once putting the ministers to the proof; instead of shewing the country what it had to expect from then, in the way of economy; instead of doing this by a "proposition for abolishing such sinecures and pensions as never were merited by the parties enjoying "them; instead of this, the motion was calculated, like the "learned languages," to produce an effect “worse than useless; because, by the appointment of a committee, no reduction will be brought about, and because, by such appointment, some persons will be led to believe, that a reduction will be brought about. There have been such committees before; and still the amount of the grants has gone on in"creasing."-POLITICAL REGISTER: 21st Feb. 1807.


SUMMARY OF POLITICS. REVERSION BILL.During the last session of parliament, a bill passed the House of Commons, the object of which was to prevent, in future, the granting of any place in reversion. This bill was thrown out in the House of Lords; and, another bill, of the same tendency, lately passed in the House of Commons, has, in the upper house, met with the same fate. A third bill is now before the former house, or, is, by this time, carried up to the latter. To be sure, it is a monstrous abuse to give a place, or office, or employment, to any one, to be held by him after the death of the present holder. It is evident, that a thousand things may happen, to make it improper that the reversioner should fill the office, of which he has the reversion; but, the impropriety becomes glaringly manifest, when we consider, that the appointment in reversion is frequently, if not generally, to children, or to persons in trust for children, or for women.-Lord Auckland's son, for instance was a mere child, when the rever: sien of Lord Thurlow's place, as a Teller of the Exchequer was granted to him; and, if any one will take the pains to look over the list of this sort of places, he will find almost every place granted two or three deep; that is to say, for an age yet to come.Yet, I wish to guard my readers against the notion, that the putting of a stop to this abuse would, of itself, do the nation any great good. I wish to show to them, that the bill, if passed, unaccompanied with any other measure of reform, would prove a thing of mere sound.In the first place, the offices in question are sinecures, that is to say, offices wherein the holders have nothing in the world to do but to receive the salaries attached to the said offices. In other words they are so many pretences for giving away the public money; so many fixed annual allowances; so many perpetually existing pensions. This being the real

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[578 state of the case, I can perceive no mischief, likely to arise from the power of granting of a place in reversion, which is not full as likely to arise from the power of granting a pension to descend in enjoyment to a second or a third person, after the present grantee; and, as far as I have heard, it does not appear to be the object of any of the reversionabolishers, now in parliament, to prevent the king, or his successor, from granting pensions in reversion.The petitions, indeed, from the Mayor, Aldermen, and Common Council, of the city of London, to both Houses of Parliament, go deeper into the matter. They complain, that the re are numbers of abuses in the management and expenditure of the public money; that the peculators detected have not been pu nished; that there are many sinecure places and pensions which ought to be abolished, for that they not only greatly add to the burdens of the people, but create a pernicious and dangerous influence, corrupting and undermining the free principles of the British Constitution. True as this is, and useful as it is to promulgate such truths, I should not, had I been a Londoner, have joined in the petition; and, my objection would have been, that these sentiments were accompanied with what was calculated to spread abroad the idea, that the reversion bill ought to be regarded as a beginning in the good work of reform, than which, as it is evident to me, nothing could be farther from the truth.The petitioners say, that "they "viewed with much satisfaction the foun"dation of a committee of finance, and "hailed the introduction to prevent the

granting of places in reversion, as the "first step towards a salutary reformation." -Did Mr. Waithman, who was the proposer of this petition, recollect, when he was drawing it up, the origin of this famous committee of finance? The motion for the appointment of the committee, was, as was stated by me at the time, calculated to preT

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


ter, the less frequent will be the occasions, wherein it will be made the means of cor. ruption. The fact is, that the places in question are, in general, granted only for one life at a time. Such has been the greediness, such the prevailing desire, to live upon the labour of the people, that the ministers, for many years back, have had no sinecure places to grant, but merely the reversion of places. There is always in existence a crew of place-hunters who wait for dead men's shoes; and thus have the places been engaged for half a century to come.



vent, or, at least, to retard, any real reform
in the distribution and expenditure of the
public money. The committee was to
inquire whether any, and what further,
saving might be made by the abolition of
"sinecure offices." Just as if it was mat-
ter of doubt, whether any saving could so be
made; and just as if there had already been
savings in that way. Truly, such a founda.
tion did not promise much good; and,
whoever is disappointed at the result the fault
is entirely their own. But, it does really
surprize me, that so sensible, so well-in
formed, so clever, and so sound a man as
Mr. Waitman is universally allowed to be,
and as I am convinced he is, should have
given into the notion, that the reversion
bill, a bill which did not even glance at the"
abolition of any place, or the diminution of
any expence, was "the first step towards a
salutary reformation," when the fact noto-
riously was, that the late ministers had no
other object in view, in bringing forward
this bill, than that of preventing the king
from making grants, which, if the bill
became a law, would fall into the hands
of his successors, the first of whom was, of
course, the Prince of Wales. It does, indeed,
surprize me, that Mr. Waithman, who is,
in general, so clear-sighted, and who is so
much above the trickery and fraud of faction,
should have allowed himself to become in-
strumental in holding forth this measure,
which had its birth in motives decidedly of
a party nature, as a step in the way of a
great and public-spirited reformation.
The subject has, I perceive, been taken up
by that rump of faction, called the Whig
Club, which, upon the exaltation of Mr.
Fox, suddenly swelled to four hundred at a
meeting, and which has now again re-dwin-
dled to a dozen. It is very well for that club
to make speeches about their patriotic-prin-
ciples; but, will they show us any one act,
which they did in the way of diminishing
the public burdens, while they were in
office? Nay, will they now say, that they
will, if again in office, reduce the number

Aye," say the advocates of the reversion bill, but, the only way to abolish these places is, first, to prevent the granting "of them in reversion; because, until they become vacant, they cannot be abo"lished." It is because the reversion bill affects to be founded upon this principle, that I dislike it, more than upon any other ac count. It is because a sanction is thus given to the audacious doctrine, that, let what will happen; let the distresses of the people be what they may, sinecure places are to be regarded as private property, as a freehold estate, and are to remain untouched, though the people, by whose labour the holders are supported, should be reduced to a degree of misery, that would drive them to seek for relief, even under the yoke of a conqueror. Half a century is too long for this nation to wait for the effects of "a salutary reforma“tion." - I hope to see a salutary reforma tion much sooner than the end of the life of even the oldest of the present, sinecure placemen.I was sorry to see Mr. Waithman at the Whig Club. If he thinks that any good is to be effected in that way, he is grievously deceived. The public are sick of both factions. The wranglings of the last year have put a finishing-stroke to confidence in public men; and, though it is quite clear, that a great change must take place, particularly in the management of the public money, not a soul will stir to assist the endeavours of the present opposition, who, as all the world perceive, have no other

and amount of the sinecure places and pen-object in view than that of ousting their ri sions? This is the question for us to put to vals, and getting into their placesI them; for, if we are to continue to pay the shall be told, perhaps, that this was always full amount of those places and pensions, the case. But, the reading, which a com what is it to us, whether the grants be made pilation of the history of the parliament has by the present, or by a succeeding king? compelled me to perform, has convinced me There is much soundness in the argument, of the falsehood of this assertion; an asser that, if the sinécures are to continue, the tion constantly made by all those, who are granting of them in reversion is less likely to interested in the support of a system of cor render the holders dependant, than if they ruption. It was not until about a century were granted for one life only; and, I think, ago; not, indeed, until after the Revolution, it is pretty clear, that the less frequently that a regular system of parliamentary oppos the giniteurs into the hands of the minis-sition was organized and acted upon; and,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

the attempts that were making at such a critical period as the present, when the executive government had but too many difficul ties to contend with to trench upon the prerogatives of the crown, and by that means to increase those difficulties in a tenfold degree.

if that system had been organized before,
there never would have been such a revolu-
tion; never would have been a revolution,
until the miserable people, assisted, perhaps,
as the people of Spain now are, by a foreign
invader, had risen, with despairing and
bloody minds, to tear the whole fabrick to
pieces. No: a regular opposition; a dead
set opposition; a division of the representa-
tives of the people into two distinct sets of
pleaders, arrayed against each other upon
benches deriving their names from the par-
ties occupying them: this does not make a
part of the constitution of England: it is a
terrible evil, grown out of the neglect and
violation of that constitution. ———Is it not a
lamentable thing, to see, at a time like this,
whole months spent in eager and angry con-
tést; and, during the whole time, scarcely
any one thing seriously discussed, or propos-
ed, having for its real object the guarding of
the nation against the dangers that await
it? To see all the powers of the minds
of so many men of such great talents,
so eminently qualified, by nature as well as
by experience, for the task of giving a right
direction to the public mind, and of infusing
into the whole mass of the nation courage
and public spirit; to see all these powers
wasted in despicable bickerings and vexatious
propositions? To have, expected many in-
dications of public-spirit might have been
unreasonable; but, surely, selfish and cor-
rupt as are the times, we might have ex-
peeted to see some one, out of so many,
hundreds, to set us an example of willing
sacrifices to the good of the country; yet,
no such example, amongst all the numerous
candidates for power, have we seen.-I
must now return to the reversion bill, for a
moment, in order to notice the debate,"
which took place upen it, in the House of
Congnons, Con Monday last, the 11th in-
stant. The bill was new-modelled. In
order to render it palatable in the House of
Lords, it was made to suspend the power of
granting places in reversion, " during the

inquiry now pending in the House of "Commons."LORD PORCHESTER Inoved an amendment; making the bill what it was before that is to say, a prohibition of any future grants of places in reversion. ———MR. STEPHEN opposed the amendment. He said, "that it had by no means been yet proved that the abolition of the practice of granting offices in reversion was injurious to the country, and it appeared to him to be at least a very questionable assertion to contend that it was so. He deprecated the disunion between the co-ordinate branches of the legislature, and condemned in warm terms

SIR FRANCIS BURDETT combatted the "arguments of the learned gentleman (Mr. "Stephens), who having rebuked others for "the temper shewn by them in this debate,, "had himself exhibited more of what was "peculiarly denominated temper, than he "had often witnessed in that house. In





deed, the whole speech of the learned "gentleman seemed to have proceeded from it, consisting chiefly of reflections cast upon persons no longer in office, and its whole scope and tendency seemed to have "that in view, rather than the question, or any of those important considerations naturally suggested by it. To this must be "attributed the palpable defectiveness of the "learned gentleman's reasoning; which appeared to him no less erroneous with respect to principles of politics than of "law. The learned gent, had adduced the "situation of Europe, and the circumstances of the times as arguments in favour of prerogative; even if this granting of re" versions was an abuse, these were not "times in which it ought to be restrained.. "Was it possible we could cast our eyes over the map of Europe, or the page of its History for the last fifteen years, and still "be advocating despotism, and putting our



trust in Standing Armies? Should we "never learn that an armed people, proud' "of, and devoted to liberty, was the only "method of making a country unconquer

able, and a government secure? What!' was it any want of prerogative that made "Austria, Prussia, Russia, and all the des"pots of Europe fall at the feet of France?" "Or was it the want of their subjects hearts' "that deprived them of energy and support; "that left them in the hour of danger "abandoned and forlorn? This should "teach princes and states, that those who "had been accustomed to "crook the "8 pregnant hinges of the knee" before one


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

master, could as easily perform the same "baseness before another; which conside-' "ration might put them out of love with "flattery and fawning; and teach them, "that despotism was not less impotent than cruel, not less marked by infamy than "folly; nor more to be hated than de"spised.-He had learnt, not only from. "those great writers whose theory, as the "learned gent. said, unfortunately diffred


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"from the practice of the constitution-he "had learnt not only from them, but also

from high prerogative lawyers, amongst others from Sir H. Finch, the high prerogative lawyer, in the high prerogative times of that high prerogative king, "Charles the First, who lost his head for his prerogative, which he owed not a little to his high prerogative lawyers, that though the prerogative extended, as they said, to every thing, yet it could not extend to abuse, because, being in its nature for the benefit, it could not be exerted to "the injury of the public. Why, then, the




question was, were those Reversionary " places for the benefit or injury of the public? But, they were pointed out as a griev ous injury and abuse by the committee of this house. This house had adopted that principle, framed a bill acknowledging it, and abolishing it, but we were now to be told it was unpalatable to the lords, that we must yield it to their prejudices: but it concerned too deeply the honour and "character of the commons, which he would not consent to yield to the prejudice or the pride or the corruption of the lords, against which he would oppose the privileges of the commons. Nor would he consent, that the commons, in a measure, no matter how small, of economy, of saving the people's pockets, of controlling public expenditure, should bate an inch of privilege, much less sacrifice the principle, which in fact, was the whole of this bill. The hon. gent, who brought for"ward this bill-now proposed, to be rendered totally worthless, by a compromise "with ministers, (and for whom he certain


ly entertained a better opinion than he had been pleased to profess he entertained for him) recalled, to his mind, upon this occasion, Bottom the weaver, who playing the part of Lion in pageantry before the court, and being excessively apprehensive least he should cause any alarin, when hé makes his appearance in his lion's hide, pops his head through a hole in the neck, and says, "don't be alarmed, for I who act Lion, am not Lion, but Bottom the weaker, don't be frightened, an if you were frighted, 'twere pity o'my life, I'll roar ye as gently as any sucking lamb "The learned gent, who had just sat down, had expressed his disbelief of the existence. of any unconstitutional influence exer cised by responsible persons, and controling the responsible ministers. This

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


influence, however, was felt early in the present reign, denounced first by my Lord Chatham, and he believed the public was "well convinced it did exist-a mysterious "and malignant power whose hand, felt, not "seen, had stabbed the constitution to the "heart. But, of all the many curious "circumstances which had attended the

*See Cobbett's Parliamentary History of England, Vol. II. p 35.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

progress of this bill, nothing appeared to "him more curious than the conduct of mi"nisters about it: they were not for it, and "they were not against it: to the court "they apologized for themselves, saying""We are not against it, because it will do

you no harm:" to the people, "We are "not strongly for it, because it will do you


no good; we do not wish to delude you, "the measure is trifling, (nugatory, said the



Secretary at War,) it would be deceiving "and raising the expectation of the people, "only to disappoint, it; it would afford them no relief." Now, he perfectly agreed as to the inadequacy of the measure-the "smallness of the boon; but, it was a com"mencement of reform, it acknowledged "the principle-the necessity; and there "fore, he should vote for it. He would "also observe, that it was the last drop that "made the cup to overflow; that the people were full of grievances and sufferings, tossing and tumbling on the bed of sick. ness; that they at present turned their anxious eyes towards that house for "relief that they should beware how they disappointed them, and turned "their eyes elsewhere in despair.—

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



But, it seemed, that ministers objected to a measure so inadequate, so paltry, not worth the people's acceptance. They "had better stomachs for reform-wanted something more substantial. He sup posed they wished for some independent "country member to get up and propose

that the ancient undoubted right of the people to annual parliaments, chosen by "themselves, should be restored or that



no person bribed, or who should be brib-l "ed by a place or pension should have a seat in the Commons House that the good old laws of the land, Magna Charta, "Bill of Rights, and Act of Settlement, "should be restored, by repealing all those unconstitutional acts which had nearly "annihilated them; of some other prope"sition worthy to be entertained by


English House of Commons. He could not set down without expressing his as tonishment at the quarter from whence "the opposition to this very moderate mea


sure came, from those who, for doing nothing, had received and were receiving

[ocr errors]



[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« ElőzőTovább »