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time. Thus, in 1804, one ship brought 105,000l. ; in 1798, another brought in 55,000l.; in 1800, one was worth 65,0001.; in 1806, several taken at once netted 155,0001. The Dutch ships at one seizure brought 1,030,0001 ;-the Spanish ships 2,200,0001. So large are the sums at one and the same moment in this rich fund, that the Crown, one year, after paying many hundred thousands to captors, and many thousands to different branches of the Royal Family, gave a million out of the residue to the public service. It is plain that this large sum was at the free disposal of the Crown, and might have been worse bestowed.
The instance of misapplication of this fund selected by our author, next merits our attention. No one can doubt the liability of the clear revenue to be used for purposes of influence; and even the most innocent part of it, that which is distributed among captors, is liable to the same abuse. It is quite discretionary, when a commander takes a vessel as a droit, and has her condemned, whether he shall have a farthing of the proceeds or not. They vest in the Crown instantly. But suppose the practice of making the officer some allowance, to be so strongly recommended by usage that something must be allowed almost as a right,-the quantum is mere matter of favour': and who can doubt that a man's politicks, as it is called—and those of his connexions—his or their votes in Parliament-his or their borough affairs, will influence the apportionment of his reward? Many questions arising in such inquiries are of great nicety, where, without any manifest injustice, a decision may be given either for or against the captor's conduct. A King's ship takes a neutral, and the Court restores, awarding costs and damages. The captor may quite manifestly have done only his duty; and out of the fund in question, a reward may be his due, to indemnify him for the rigour of the law, the strict letter of which he has violated. But it may be a doubtful case. Then let him and his beware how they act, speak and vote, while the gallant officer's memorial is before the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury. On this subject, nothing further needs be said.' But the case given by our author belongs to a somewhat different class. It is that of an unsuccessful claimant being rewarded, and a meritorious captor neglected.
It appears that Sir Home Popham, during the peace after the late American war, went over to Ostend, and embarked largely in a trade to India, deemed illicit by our law. His vessel was caught-seized-brought into port by a King's ship-proceeded against in the Admiralty Courts, and condemned as a droit of the Crown. The value was about 25,0001.; and the gallant Captain had also got into a difficulty, consequent upon smug
gling some teas ashore, independent of the contraband nature of the whole voyage. There was in his political conduct and connexions, however, a something which, it should seem, was found sufficient to outweigh all these considerations;--and accordingly, a grant of the proceeds was made to him, amounting in all to about 25,0001. It has further been stated, that he had incurred no loss himself, the ship and cargo having belonged to a house at Ostend, which failed in consequence of the seizure and condemnation, and contrived to throw the ultimate payment of the above sum upon a great English house, their creditors. The officer who made the capture received nothing. This transaction is complete in all its parts; and amply bears cut our author's sharp remarks upon the subject. When Dr Lushington most ably brought it before the House, and moved, " that Sir Home Popham, in being detected in knowingly cars6 rying on an illegal traffic, had acted in contempt of the laws “ of his country, contrary to the duty of a British subject, and “ to the disgrace of the character of a British officer; and fur" ther, that the grant of 25,000l., by Mr Long to him, out of “ the droits of Admiralty, had been a gross misapplication of “ public money," a debate arose on this question; and although
not a single fact was denied or disputed, Sir Home Popham and « Mr Long were fully acquitted of all blame by a majority of • 126 to 57. When one member of Parliament,'
,says the author, can thus give to another such a sum of money as • 25,000l. out of the droits of the Admiralty, it accounts for that • loyal clamour which we hear so incessantly in Parliament, of • this fund being the private property of the King. It exposes,
without the necessity of any comment, the fixed determina• tion of the House of Commons, to draw all sources of emolu• ment within their own hands; and, above all, it demonstrates
to us, the Electors of Great Britain, the absolute necessity
that there is, in our approaching agreement with the new So• vereign, for ever to separate this enormous fund, the Droits
of Admiralty, from the grasp of the members of the House of Commons.
We have remarked, that the occasional nature of the droits is one strong argument against the existence of such a fund; because it every now and then puts a large sum in the hands of those who may be thus either enabled, or even tempted, by having the means, to pursue the business of corruption. The same remark may be applied to other funds of a similar nature, though of far inferior amount; as the escheats by failure of heirs, alienage, &c. It appears from the Parliamentary returns, that, in 1807, two sums came to the Crown in this way, the one of VOL. XXXIII. NO. 66.
47,0001., the other of 113,0001.; and in 1809, a sum of 61,7771. accrued in the same manner. But annual and regular funds of u similar description are not wanting; to afford the means of pensioning those whom it may be worth while to influence, and not easy to gain except by such a provision, or whom it may peradventúre not be safe to trust with a provision once for ail, but more prudent to pay from year to year.
The four and a hilf per cent. West-India duties falls within this description; and our author has thrown a great light upon both the origin and the application of this convenient revenue. He states it at between thirty and forty thousand a year; and thus gives its history, and the uses to which it is put.
It was created originally by a colonial law of Barbadoes, one hundred and sixty years ago.; and, by the terms of the act, was to be applied to purely colonial purposes. This fund seems to have been first diverted from its original and legal application, in the latter end of Charles II.'s time. It was seized by the courtiers in those times, and continued apparently to be abused till the reign of Queen Anne. Upon her accession, there is a statement in the Journals of the House of Commons of the misapplication of this fur'd. and a formal renun. ciation of it by the Queen and Parliament in favour of the island of Barbadoes, and the original purposes of the act creating it. At the present day, however, the House of Commons have got almost exclusive possession of this fund. The two principal performers in the smuggling transaction, so lately referred to, are here to be found also. Sir Home Popham has a pension of five hundred per annum, with reversion to Lady Popham; and his benefactor, Mr Long, has a pension of one thousand five hundred pounds per annum eharged upon this fund also. In short, it is nearly exhausted amongst members of Parliament, their wives, or sisters.
• There is one name on this fund that ought never to be forgotterr by the people of England. We all remember the fatal expedition to Walcheren, when an army of forty thousand men, the finest that. ever left our shores, was sent only to perish in that pestilential climate. When this distressing subject became matter of discussion and complaint in the House of Commons; when it was made apparent to every man in England, that it was to the wilful ignorance of our Mi, nisters, respecting the nature of the climate of Walcheren, that this great national calamity was to be attributed, it was nevertheless re, solved in the House of Commons, by a majority of two hundred and seventy-five to two hundred and twenty five, to negative the censure which was nioved by Lord Portchester (now Lord Carnarvon) against the Ministers on that occasion. But a severer trial still was to be made of the House of Commons. A vote of approbation of the Mihisters, was absolutely moved for this frightful' Walcheren expedition ; and was adopt d by a majority of two hundred and fifty-five to two hundred and thirty two! The Member of the House of Com
mons who moved the vote of approbation, was General Crawford, and at that time there stood against his name, on the list of the fout and a half per cent. Leeward - Island duties, a pension of one thouser d two hundred pounds per annum for his life. General Crawford, no doubt, is a distinguished officer, and had been wounded in the service; but there are many, very many officers in our army, as distinguished as General Crawford, and who have been much more severely wounded, who have served many more campaigns tlian General Crawford, and rendered much more important services to their country; yet you may ransack all the pension lists in vain to find the sum of fifty pounds a year, much less one thousand two hundred, annexed to the names of such general officers.
To speak, then, historically of General Crawford in this transaction.—He had recently become connected by marriage with the family of the Duke of Newcastle; he represented and commanded that powerful Parliamentary interest in the House of Commons; the Minister of the Crown selected him as a 'fit person to enjoy a pension of one thousand two hundred pounds a year for life ; and the General considered the Minister of the Crown as entitled to the gratitude of his country for his expedition to Walcheren. This is all according to form and usage in the House of Commons' practice--but we, the Electors of Great Britain, are deeply interested in preventing, if we can, this fund of the four and a half per cent. from ever again being doomed to the same prostitution.' p. 12-15.
We consider such statements as invaluable. They are worth a thousand general descriptions, and, as it were, theories of influence: They show the very fact--the actual working of the mechanism by which money is first unduly taken from the People's pocket, and then used in helping the Ministers to curb their liberties, and keep their own places. With such pictures this Tract abounds.
• You would suppose, by this time,' says our author, ' that I we had exhausted the hiding places of Members of Parlia
ment and their connexions; but there are nooks and corners ' to be yet looked into.' And accordingly, he proceeds to pry into the fee fünds of the different departments of the
Revenue and Offices of State, and finds, that those fees exacted from the subject for the support of those places of business deemed indispensably necessary to the public service, are converted into a treasure applicable to House of Commons' purposes. Take an instance or two again; for this author is a plain matter-of-fact man, who loves to proceed by example.
· Under the head of Superannuations in the Foreign Office, you will find no less a sum than 10001. a year for life. settled upon the wife of Robert Ward Esq. of that department. Who then is this superannuated Robert Ward ? The date of his pension is February, 1806: It is said he was then about three or four and thirty years
of age, and had been Under Secretary of State about ten or eleven months. . It is known that, for thirteen years since, he has filled, and fills now, an efficient department in the Ordnance, with a salary from 2 to 3000l. per annum.
How then became Mr Ward superannuated so much before his time as to entitle him to this pension of 1000l. per annum for the life of his lady? Why, I will tell you :-It is because Mr Ward was, and is, one of Lord Lonsdale’s numerous members of Parliament, and because Mrs Ward is the sister of Lady Mulgrave, Lord Mulgrave having been the Minister who gave Mr Ward this pension. Again, in the Stamp-Office, you will find a provision made out of the fees in favour of a Mr Estcourt, amounting to 12001. per annum for his life, and, it is added, " as late solicitor to the Stamp-Office. And who is this retired attorney, for whom so magnificent an allowance is provided, the greatest sum the Crown can grant to a subject by Mr Burke's Civil List Act? Why, Mr Estcourt is the proprietor of the borough of Malmsbury, and returns two members to the House of Commons; and this is his claim to 12001. per annum for life out of our pockets; and, no doubt, an unanswerable claim too, in the opinion of all Ministers.' pp. 17, 18.
By such statements of fact does this writer expose the operation of influence, and explain the unhappy estrangement of Members of Parliament from their constituents. The principal remedy which he proposes, is a recurrence to the sound provisions of Mr Burke's bill, which prevented any pension from being granted above 12001. a year, and limited to 90,0001. a year the total pension fund: And this remedy might be at once applied, mereÎy by cutting off all pensions upon the four and a half per cent. and other similar funds, which at present render that once celebrated bill a mere dead letter. He also proposes that the Crown should be in future restrained from making any grant out of these funds to Members of Parliament. Upon this we pause. The funds themselves, we agree, should be carried to publick account; this, we think, demonstrated above. Indeed the principal one, the West India fund, does not, by law, belong either to the Crown or the Parliament, but to the Colonies, and is only held by an act of violence. For the act granting it in 1663, expressly states, that it was raised for specific local purposes, viz. building sessions' houses, prisons, bridges, &c.; and when, in 1701, the Islands applied to Parliament to have it restored, a committee, appointed to inquire, reported that they had fully proved their case; whereupon an address was presented to the Queen, praying that it might be given up; and her Majesty immediately promised that it should.-13. Com. Journ. 800. 818. 828. Before that time, it had been included in the Acts of Parliament touching the Civil List, among the smaller branches of the hereditary revenue. See particularly, 9. Wil. 3. c. 23. § 14.