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was prescribed, and the statute by which the alienation of that same property, for that or any other purpose, was prohibited. 1
After all, it was not by the " excellent" Lord Somers that this profundity of policy was, or, considering the side taken by him, could consistently have been displayed. It was to another " excellent" law Lord, though not noble Lord, viz. the Lord Chief Justice Holt, that the glory of it should have been ascribed.
"Rewards and punishments" (says he)" are the supporters of all governments-and for that reason it is that there ought to be a power in all governments to reward persons that deserve well:"-proof sufficient to the excellent Lord Chief Justice that it was no more than right and fitting, that it should always be, and so long as any thing was left, remain in the King's power, to give away, to any body he pleased, whatsoever part of the people's money he could contrive to lay his hands on.
"But it is objected" (says the excellent Lord Chief Justice) "that the power in the King of alienating his revenues may be a prejudice to his people, to whom he must recur continually for supplies." But, to this objection, the excellent Chief Justice had his answer ready. "I answer" (says he) "that the law has not such dishonourable thoughts of the King, as to imagine he will do any thing amiss to his people in those things in which he has power so to do." Reason suficient with the excellent Chief Justice to trust the King, thus in the lump, with the arbitrary and uncontrolled disposal of men's properties;-reason not less sufficient might it have been, for trusting the same royal person, on the same terms, with their liberties, and their lives. This was Whig Commoa Law;- What more could a King have had or wished for, from Tory Common Luw?
This theory then, which, to the views of our Orator being so convenient, was in the judgment of the Orator so "excellent:"--this theory was the theory-not of the excellent Lord Keeper, but of the excellent Lord Chief Justice. Not that by this mistake of John for Thomas any very material injustice was done to the excellent Lord Keeper; for, in this instance, if any thing was wanting in theory, (not that any such deficiency appears) it was made up in practice.
To the profits of the office-those profits, for an eventual supplement to which, even Lord Eldoa required, or at least obtained, not more than a floating 4,000l. a year, these profits not being sufficient for making reuard the origin of that family;" for affording to it a sufficiently broad “ finndation of wealth as well as of honours,” a pension for life of 4,0001. a year was added: 4,000!. a year then equal at least to 12,0001. a year now. This, as not being in fee, being still insufficient, an estate, which was and is in fee, was added: an estate which according to his own admission and valuation made for the purpose, was producing at that time no more than a poor 2,100l. a year, it the statement thus given in general terms by the learned and noble grantee for the purpose of his defence against an impeachment is to be taken for correct; how much at present is best known to some noble or not noble proprietor or other, related or not related, into' whose hands it has passed,
But this 4,000l. a year, and this 2,1001. a year, and this 12,000 a year
Modern Reports, Vol. 5, pp. 54, 55. 7 Will. 31. The Banker's case.
t The Manor or Manors of Rygate and Howleigh, which according to the Tory House of Commons were at that time worth upwards of 12,000l. but according to the noble and excellent de fendant “far short of that "value:" though how far short he was not pleased to say: also divers other good gifts the amount of which became the matter of so many disputes, which, the inpeachment of the excellent Lord not having come to a trial, was never settled. V. State Trials, Vol. 5, pp. 330, 351, 352.
Proposition 3. The progress of this revolution ought not to be stopped, till it has received its consummation as above de
more or less, these et cæteras, were they, any of them, ever begged for by the excellent Lord? Oh no: so he himself expressly assures us:-begged for, no more than the Tellership was begged for by Mr. Yorke. These are of the number of those gracious designs, which till the very moment of their taking effect, are never known of. While the eyes of the Right Honorable person are, as usual, fist on heaven, the grant is slipped into his pocket, and when, putting in his hand by accident, he feels it there, his astonishment is not inferior to bis gratitude.*
Note that for no such expence as this, in so rare an article as wisdom, was there any the smallest need. In the time of Charles the 2nd, (the Bank of England not as yet born or thought of,) money to the amount of "above a million" (a vast sum in those days) part their own, part that of their cus tomers, having been lent to the King by a set of bankers, was by him the said King converted to his own use: in court English, "the Exchequer was shut up!
In a succeeding reign, viz. that of King William, the question was, whether there was power in the crown, sufficient for applying a particular branch of its revenues in part restitution of the profit of this robbery. Yes, says this Lord Chief Justice: for the branch in question (a new one-a portion of the Excise) was given to the King in exchange for an old branch, viz. the branch called "wards and liveries." Whoever has an estate in fee may alienate it; in the "wards and liveries" the King had an estate in fee! the Excise was by Act of Parliament given to him in lieu of those "wards and liveries:" and what is more, by the express words of the act, he was and is empowered to alien it. This, supposing the construction put upon the act not inconsistent with the words of it, might, one should have thought, have sufficed for argument. But this would not have sufficed to shew the learn ed Lord's acquaintance as above with the depths of policy: nor yet the "honorable thoughts" entertained of the King by the law:-and so, ex abundantia the sage reasons that have been seen, were added.
Whatsoever money the King could contrive to lay his hands upon, that the virtuous Whig Chief Justice was content to see him waste. Why? For this plain reason: because "the law has not."-(i. e. he, his predecessors and colleagues had not) any such dishonorable thoughts of the King as to imagine he will do any thing amiss to his people in those things in which he has power so to do."
And what was the incident that called forth their effusion of faith and confidence? It was that of a King having robbed his subjects: robbed them of so much money-and for what? to hire men with, for robbing in conjunction with their enemies for robbing and murdering their allies. Į
Now therefore in my humble conception of the matter, whosoever it was that went thus far, whether it was the excellent Lord Keeper, whether it was the virtuous and intrepid Whig Chief Justice went so far, it is no very easy matter to imagine how the learned colleagues of the Chief Justice, or any of them, should (as Edmund Burke says they dal) "go further:" and that, for any imaginable set of existing circumstances, for any imaginable
Of the relative quantity of the slice thus taken, relation being had to the quantity left, some conception may be formed from a note of Mr. Rose's in his Observations respecting the public expenditure and the influence of the crown." 2nd Edition, 1810. "In 15 years, to 1715, the whole income from crown lauds (says he) including rents, fines, and grants of all sorts, was 22,6241., equal to 1,500l. a year." Journals of H. C. Vol. XX. p. 520.
scribed, i. e. so long as any part of the property of the public, understand of the people, remains unapplied to the purpose of giving effect to this "maxim" with its "constitutional policy;" viz. "the furnishing a permanent reward to public service: of making that reward the origin of families, and the foundation of wealth as well as honours."
Proof. (Observations.) For, already, at the time of this excellent argument, had this quiet and gradual revolution made such progress, that, within a trifle, the domain in question,--a mass of property originally sufficient for the peace establishment of the country-had been thus disposed of.
There remained, it is true, and still remains, in part at least as yet undisposed of in the same constitutional way, the private property' of individuals.
But a principle adequate to this purpose, had already been established-established by the same or another provident set of hands -and, at the time of this excellent oration still continued to be acted upon yes, and still continues to be acted upon, under the eye and cognizance, and without censure from the above mentioned existing committee, by which a diamond from this same excellent oration has, without acknowledgment, been picked out,-picked
purpose of accommodation, convenience, reward of merit, reward of eminent services, and so forth-not to speak of reasonable, useful, and honest purposes, --it went far enough of all conscience.
Of these "honorable thoughts" one effect was to reduce to such a state of debility the learned thinker's learned imagination as to disable it from representing to him as possible, a state of things which his memory, if consulted upon the occasion, could not but have represented to him as realized, and that no more than seven years before: that state of things expressed-the half of it by the lawyer's word abdication, the whole of it by the people's word revolution, but for which (I mean the revolution) his master could not have been a King, nor himself a Lord Chief Justice. This master of his was now King: and now, whatsoever power the King has, is become incapable of being used amiss; misuse being in such hands either the same thing as use, or, (what comes to the same thing) converted into use.
This is the way the sort of a thing called common law is made. Not content with exercising the power which he has, nothing will serve a man but he must display the wisdom which he has not: he bewilders himself and raves: and his ravings as often as it happens to them to suit the interest or the humour of those that come after him, these ravings of his become law.
Principles and practice together, nothing could be better matched: practice found by the excellent Lord Keeper, principles by the excellent Lord Chief Justice.
Note that while lawyers as well as favorites were thus fattening (for the reign of William, though a reign of salvation for England and for Europe, was a reign of waste and favoritism) the state, for want of common necessaries, was continually on the brink of ruin: expence unprecedented, ways and means scanty, deficiencies abundant, losses distressing, credit at death's
out and employed in giving additional lustre to the jewel for which we are indebted to their hands. '
Burke, p. 62. in the paragraph immediately preceding the one above quoted-" I know, too, that it will be demanded of me how it comes, that since I admit these offices" (sinecures) "to be no better than pensions, I chose, after the principle of law had been satisfied," (meaning the principle, with how little propriety soever it can he termed a principle of law, the principle of policy and humanity that forbids the abolition of them, though it be by the legislature, to the prejudice of existing rights of property, i. e. without adequate compensation,) "I chose to retain them at all." This being the question, now, reader, whether you have, or have not, read Part 1. of this Tract, Chapter 3, On Sinecures, be pleased to observe the answer"To this, Sir, I answer, that conceiving it to be a fundamental part of the constitution of this country, and of the reason of state in every country, that there must be means of rewarding public service, these means will be incomplete, and indeed wholly insufficient for that purpose, if there should be no further reward for that service than the daily wages it receives during the pleasure of the Crown."
Thus far Edmund Burke; and thus far, and without inverted commas, or any other token of adoption, the existing Committee on Finance, (3rd. Report, p. 126.) substituting only to the words-" To this, Sir, I answer, that conceiving" the words, "at the same time regarding."
Here we see what, according to the logic of the rhetorician, constitutes a sufficient reason why the quantity of annual emolument in question should not be put into the shape of pension, but be continued in the shape of Sinecure. And this is the flourish which, with the question between Sinecures and Pensions before their eyes, the Committee copy; and though like the Orator in the way of concession, exhibit not the less in the character of a "fundamental part of the constitution of this country.”
This principle consists in the habit, which, under common law, is the same thing as the power of creating offices, with fees annexed to the same, and receivable by the officers successively invested with the same: of creating these fee-gathering offices, or what comes to the same thing, annexing more and more fees to offices of this sort already created; fees, that as taxes, exacted by the sole authority of some official person or persons, without allowance, special or general, from the representatives of the people in Parliament.
This principle may be seen flourishing to this day, and with unabated vigor; for, so long as the word tar is not mentioned, and instead of a contribution to a tax, the money levied is called a fee, and instead of the pocket of the public, the pocket it goes into, is that of the imposer and the assem bly, in the composition of which the people have sonie share, have no share in the imposition of it, nothing can exceed the acquiescence and complacency with which the good people of this country, as well as its Parlia ment, are content to view it; especially when the tax thus imposed, is imposed upon that class of the community which is composed of the distressed. members of all the other classes, and by so fast a friend to the rights of the people and to liberty, and to Juries, and to the laws which forbid the lexying money upon the people without consent of Parliament, and to the Magna Charta which forbids the delaying of justice, and to the Magna Charta which forbids the sule of justice, and to the Magua Charta which forbids the denial of justice (whether by putting a price upon it beyond what they have to give, or otherwise,) as the Noble Ex-Chancellor, then Chancellor, legislating with the advice and consent of his Right Honorable Subordinate,
whose experience in equity business found such a contrast to that of the CommonLaw Learned Novice.
No. I. List of Law Sinecures granted in fee, with the masses of emolument respectively attached to them: gleaned and put together from the reports of the Finance Committee of the years 1797-8 and 1807-8 : distinguishing as well the different descriptions of the Offices and Others in question, as the different masses of emolument respectively received at the two different periods, as exhibited by the two commitress: with references to the Nos. of the Appendixes and Pages of the two Reports: the Reports being--of those of the committee of 1797-8, the 29th, and of those of the committee of 1807-8, the 3d.
1797-8 No. Page
1807-8 No. Pace
Description as per
Description as per
Annual Sums received as per 1797-8 1807-8
6 N. 29 29 72
I. COURT OF CHANCERY.
1, Keeper or Clerk of His
2. Register of the Court of
1. Hanaper, Clerk of; sisters
2. No mention.
11. COURT OF KING'S BENCH.
2. Seal Office of King's
III. COURT OF COMMON PLEAS.
281 5. Custos Brevium, C. P. ·
4. Chief Proclamator, A.
5. Custos Breviom, Honor-"
IV. COURT OF EXCHEQUER
281 6. Hereditary Chief Usher
6. Chief Usher, Arabella
Reference to the Reports of the Finance Committees.
No. (1) 1797-8, K. 7. p. 84 85- 1807 8. No. 72 p, 280.
• Gross 1,9941. The beneficial interest is not in fee: the reversión was granted to a pair of Thurlows in June 1799, 27th Finance Report, 1797-8 p. 84.
"Viz. an ancient allowance of 5d a day, (called diet money) during the time the Court is open, which 13 uncertain." 4th Finance Report, 1797-8, N. 29. (a) p. 238.