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about 300,0001. of debt, which the fund he had mentioned would
off in three or four years. Mr. Fox strongly recommended precautions for the prevention of future debts, provided they were applied to all future kings and princes; but thought there were inconveniences in making the officers of the Prince responsible for his debts, which could not be obviated.
After some further observations of Mr. Fox, on the propriety of his Majesty coming forward on such an occasion, and the right that the Prince had to the arrears of the duchy of Cornwall during his minority, and which had been applied by successive ministers in aid of the civil list, the house proceeded to divide upon Mr. Grey's amendment, when the numbers for it were 99, against it 260. On the division for repairing Carlton House, there were for it 248, against it 99. For the expense of the royal marriage 241, against it 100.
The debates in the House of Commons excited a corresponding sensation out of doors, which was artfully kept alive by inflammatory publications, and newspaper paragraphs, tending to degrade the Prince of Wales in the estimation of the public. In this state of the affair, Mr. Anstruther, then attorney-general to the Prince, and afterwards chief justice of the supreme court at Calcutta, was authorized to make the following communication to the House of Commons, in the name of the Prince of Wales.
• That his Royal Highness was desirous to acquiesce in whatever might be the sentiments of the house, both in respect to the future regulation of his expenditure, and the appropriation of any part of the income they might think fit to grant him, for the discharge of his debt; his wish, on the present occasion, was entirely to consult the wisdom of parliament. He was perfectly disposed to acquiesce in whatever abatement of splendour they might judge to be necessary, from a view of his situation; and desired to have nothing, but what the country might cordially be induced to think he ought to have. In fine, that his Royal Highness left all matters relative to the regula22.
tion of his establishment, and the payment of his debts, to the wisdom and discretion of parliament, with the assurance that whatever measures they might adopt, would meet with his hearty concurrence.'
Mr. Pitt, upon this occasion, congratulated the house upon the constitutional sentiments which his Royal Highness had expressed ; and said, he observed with pleasure that a parliament, which had never failed in any expression of loyalty to their sovereign, or attachment to his family—which had never been wanting in discovering a proper spirit of liberality, when the occasion called for it—had no less in the present instance shewn a degree of jealousy, care, and circumspection, when a demand was made upon the pockets of their constituents, attended with some circumstances which they could not alto gether approve.
He had no less satisfaction, he said, in ob serving that the illustrious personage himself was impressed with a just sense of that line of conduct, which, regard to his character and situation required him to pursue ; and trusted that the house had that day received an earnest of the future disposition of his Royal Highness, and of that regard to the welfare of the people which would distinguish him in the exalted situation to which he might one day be called. Under that impression, he hoped there would be little difference of opinion as to the proposition which he should submit to the house. The instruction he meant to move went precisely to the two objects which his honourable and learned friend (Mr. Anstruther) had referred to in the communication from his Royal Highness: the regulation of the expenditure of his household, and the appropriation of part of the income for the discharge of his debts. It was certainly satisfactory, Mr. Pitt said, for the house to know that his Royal Highness was perfectly disposed to concur in whatever arrangements the wisdom of parliament might adopt in respect to those two objects. He hoped that by this communication every difficulty would be considerable lessened, though they might not, perhaps, be entirely removed; as some members, however, who were disposed to support the dignity and credit of the Prince of Wales
by a proper establishment, had expressed their opinion that no notice ought to be taken of the debts at all. The question, he would remark, at present, was not what part of the income should be appropriated to the payment of the debt, nor did the instruction he meant to propose go so much as to narrow even the largest sum that had been suggested for that purpose. The only question was, whether the aid of parliament ought to be given to his Royal Highness, by adopting legislative regulations for the discharge of debts, which, it was admitted on all hands, ought never to have been contracted. Without any retrospect to the past, over which Mr. Pitt said he wished to draw a veil, he appealed to the fair and candid feelings of the House, whether they could refuse to adopt a measure so necessary for the character and credit of his Royal Highness, so infinitely connected with his personal comfort and the splendour of his rank? Could they refuse to concur with his Royal Highness in appropriating a large part out of the income allotted him, in order to relieve him from the embarrassment of debt? The business appeared to him to rest upon so plain a proposition, and to be itself so self-evident, that, reserving all particular details for future discussion, he trusted that what he had now to propose would meet the almost unanimous concurrence of the House. Mr. Pite concluded with moving an instruction to the committee, that another committee should be appointed to bring in the bill relative to a general regulation of his Royal Highness' expenditure, and the appropriation of part of his income to the discharge of his debts.
The substance of the arguments of those who opposed Mr. Pitt's motion, may be gathered from the speech of Mr. Duncombe (one of the members for York), who stated that he was one of those who, on a former day, had voted for the smaller augmentation of the Prince's income. • At a time,' said this gentleman, when the comforts and conveniences of life are wanting to the middling classes of society, when the poor are scarcely supplied with even commun necessaries, and when the
prospect of a dearth* becomes every day more alarming, I cannot listen to the idle claims of splendour and magnificence; I trust that at such a season, the feelings of his Royal Highness will dispose him rather to sympathize with the distress of the lower orders, and to sacrifice something for their relief, than to form selfish and extravagant pretensions. There is another consideration which deserves to be attended to. In these distempered times, let us beware how, by an unnecessary or wanton profusion of the public money, we furnish the favourers of wild and dangerous innovations with a colour and plausibility for their arguments. As a friend to the hereditary monarchy, as an adherent to the family on the throne, I feel myself called upon to resist the motion. Let us recollect that there are other branches of the royal family. If, after the assurance we have received, we again consent to pay the debts of his Royal Highness, we shall establish a precedent, of which we cannot tell to what
purpose be applied, or to what extent it may be carried. I do not mean to say that the debts ought not to be paid, but I look to other resources for that purpose. I look first to the justice of his Royal Highness to make provision for the payment of those debts that shall be proved to be just : many of them, I apprehend, do not come under that description. I look to future economy in the regulation of his household ; and lastly, I look to the assistance he may derive from the well known munificence of his royal father. As the idea of temporary retirement has been suggested, I have only to remark, that from such a retirement his Royal Highness might reap great advantage in settling his affairs, and be again enabled to emerge with fresh splendour. Retirement, it has been remarked, is the nurse of reflection ; by its influence, his Royal Highness might be enabled to confirm those resolutions which he has expressed in his communication to the House, and to return again into public life, fortified against future error, and qualified for the
* The harvest of 1795 was at this period very unpromising and afterwards turned out extremely unfavourable.
important duties of that high station which he may one day be called to fill.
The allusion to assistance that might be expected from the King, was repeated by Mr. Curwen and other members, and commented on by Mr. Dundas, who said, he was surprised at one resource which had been pointed out by some honourable gentlemen, in the affection and benevolence of his royal father. (A cry of hear, hear, pervaded the House.) That cry, Mr. Dundas said, he was confident, could only proceed from a few voices, and by no means discovered the general feeling of the House on the subject. They had repeatedly had occasion to examine the situation of his Majesty with respect to the civil list, particularly on occasion of granting establishments to the Duke of Clarence, and to the Duke of York on his marriage. They might recollect, that on the arrangement formerly made with respect to the debts of his Royal Highness, part of that provision arose out of the liberality of his Majesty. The civil list was indeed large, but was wholly appropriated to particular services, except the sum allotted for his Majesty's privy purse. The idea of such a resource arose out of the miserable feeling which he was surprised that any gentleman could entertain. He knew not (and his means of information were as good as those of any other member) of the existence of any
sum, as that which had been referred to. Besides, he would ask, with that numerous family with which his Majesty was blessed, were there no other objects who claimed his royal munificence and attention? The Prince of Wales was the last who might be supposed to have such a claim; he, from the situation in which he stood, was the peculiar care of the public. Allusion might be made to the revenues which his Majesty derived from the electorate of Hanover. But had his Majesty no state to support in that quarter ? Was he to rob his Hanoverian subjects in order to pay debts contracted in this country by the heir apparent to the British crown? The appeal that had been made on this subject he could consider as neither fair nor candid, and, as such, he should dismiss it without further observation.