The Chancellor of the Exchecquer
said, he rose to discharge a public duty under the influence of feelings which were in some degree of a painful, and in some degree of a grateful, nature, — painful, inasmuch as the task he had undertaken to perform brought to his recollection the loss which the House had sustained by the death of one of its members most distinguished for his abilities and virtues,— painful, also, as regarded the interests of a family, who had a right to look to that right hon. gentleman, not only for honours and distinctions, but also for the means of future support;— grateful, however, inasmuch as it gave him an opportunity of recording the opinion which he entertained of the talent and ability of that right hon. gentleman, and as it made him the instrument of rendering to his family what he considered an act of justice on the part of that House. His object in rising was, to propose an alteration of the Offices Pensions act, with the view of affording a provision to the family of Mr. Canning. He did not recommend the measure to the House on the ground of precedent, nor did he mean to propose the resolution in order that it might become a precedent. He did not mean to say that in every case the fact of an individual having held an exalted situation, either in public office or in that House, should be a sufficient ground for the interference of 682 parliament with the view of making a provision for his family. He rested the claim to such provision, in the present instance, on the peculiar circumstances of the case. He knew that there existed objections of a serious nature to what might be hereafter adopted as a precedent. But the vote which he meant to propose was founded on such peculiar circumstances, that it never could be followed as a precedent, unless under similar circumstances. It was known to almost every one present, that Mr. Canning; entered into political life at an early period, and, like many others who had pursued the same course, with very moderate means. After having distinguished himself in the senate sufficiently to interest those in the ministry to desire the aid of his talents, he obtained offers in the year 1796. He need hardly state to those who were conversant with official situations, that the higher offices in the state were uniformly accompanied by an income so small, that it was impossible to make out of that moderate income any provision for a family. To speak much nearer the truth, those who accepted those situations were aware, that if they must live in a style of expense suitable to their station, they must draw on their private resources. Mr. Canning was, therefore, obliged, in endeavouring to maintain respectably the situation which he had obtained, to trench considerably on his own resources; and he had at an early period of his political life, encroached further than he would have been authorized in doing, had he not been upheld by anticipating very advantageous results from the profession which he had adopted. After several years' occupation in the public service, in 1822 Mr. Canning received the appointment of Governor-general of India, which high situation a person circumstanced as he was, would hardly be disposed to decline, both on account of the very honourable nature of the appointment itself, and the field which it opened to his family's advancement. That situation he accepted, principally for the latter reason. But, at this period of his history, an event occurred which opened to him a situation for which he seemed eminently calculated by his talents and deserved popularity. That event turned the general attention to Mr. Canning, as the most proper person to fill the chasm made in the ministry by the death of the noble lord at the head of 683 foreign affairs. The proffer of the office was resolved on by the king, and it was immediately accepted by Mr. Canning. Without balancing between the important advantages which his appointment to the office of Governor-general was likely to afford to his family, and the public emergency, he, by this acceptance of the high office then vacant, without any stipulation for futurity, established a claim on the gratitude of the country, in the event of any such untoward event as that which had since occurred. So much so, that it was now considered highly proper to recommend to his majesty to grant to Mr. Canning's family one of those pensions, which, by law, he was entitled to grant, with the advice of parliament, to persons who were similarly situated, having held high situations under his government. It was to be recollected, that at this time Mr. Canning was at that period of life which promised him, in the ordinary course of things many years of health to enjoy his elevation; and there was no reason to anticipate that we should have been so soon deprived of his splendid talents. Had Mr. Canning lived and possessed the opportunity of thus remunerating himself for the sacrifices he had made in earlier life, this would not have been a case for the interference of parliament: but, in consideration of his promptitude in accepting the highly onerous and responsible situation of Foreign Secretary at this important conjuncture, and his never having had the opportunity of entitling himself to the usual pension by service, the committee would, no doubt, consider that there was a claim made out for his family. —It now remained for him to point out the mode in which this provision was to be made. If he were obliged to confine himself to precedents, he might choose to treat this appeal to the committee in the nature of an application to it to pay the debts of the lamented individual. There were two courses clear for the committee to adopt: he felt it his duty to decline that which would be attended with the greater aggravation of the public burthens, and should propose that the pension which that lamented individual would have been entitled to under the Pensions Act, had he filled the situation the full time required in order to entitle him to that pension,—namely, 3,000l. a year—should be settled on one of the branches of his family, and be vested in 684 trustees for the uses of his family, to be by them applied in the manner most eligible. In this instance, he had departed, in some degree, from the objects intended to be embraced by the Pensions' bill. That bill had been adopted in consequence of its being proposed to resume all that class of sinecures which had been at the entire disposal of the Crown until the passing of this act; and it was judged only fair, that, in taking away from the Crown that power which it hitherto had, to reward those who had rendered it eminent services, this power should be still vested in the Crown by means less objectionable, namely by pensions under the sanction of the legislature. It was a clear case, that if that act had not been passed, a branch of this eminent statesman's family would have received one of those sinecures. It was, in fact, only granting to the son of that eminent servant of the public, through another form of proceeding, that which, there could be no doubt, he must have been under the former state of the law, eminently entitled to. This mode he had adopted in compliance with the system adopted by parliament, for the remuneration of services of this kind; and he proposed it as the one most likely to make good the dilapidated resources of the family. Having thus explained the reasons for his application, as well as the mode in which his object was to be accomplished, little more remained than to meet the possible objection, that he had not sufficiently dwelt on the merits, services, and distinguished talents of the late premier. The course he had adopted, he assured the committee, was not adopted through a servile adherence to precedent, but because he thought it was best adapted to the circumstances of the case. On those merits it would shortly become the province of history to decide. That Mr. Canning had eminently distinguished himself within those walls, and, as a great statesman, served his country, he thought no one would question for a moment; that he had made great and willing sacrifices for the good of his country, no one would deny; and he trusted the committee would coincide with him in thinking, that it was its duty to make a suitable provision for the family of this illustrious statesman in return. The right hon. gentleman concluded by moving, that the chairman be directed to move for leave to bring in a bill to enlarge and amend the 685 57th Geo. 3rd., entitled, "An Act to enable his Majesty to reward Public Servants holding, or having held, high public offices."
§ Lord Althorp
confessed he felt surprise that, previously to bringing on such a motion, no allusion had been made to the financial state of the country. Without any such reference, they had been called on to make an advance of the public money to the family of a late high officer of state. Not that he thought the sum of 3,000l. a year so great an object in a monied point of view at another time; but it was to be borne in mind, that at present our farmers were in a state of great pressure and distress, and our manufacturers were complaining of being unable to get any profits on the articles of their manufacture. When every thing appeared to be verging towards general distress, he could not but consider the proposition as ill-advised, and almost an insult to the country. Was the House in a situation to be called on to impose fresh taxes on the people? Were not our finances so low, that it was difficult to keep up the service of the country? The question really was, which of them must, in our present state of embarrassment, be left inefficient. And on this subject, he must say, it was not so much arising out of the expenses incident to governing the country, as to the baneful influence of the pension system. The last Pension Act had completely crippled every thing. He would oppose this application, also, because it stood on no precedent. Indeed, the right hon. gentleman had not put it upon any legal claim, or even upon the justice of the application, but had flung the case on the generosity of the House. He had witnessed enough of this sort of generosity, and expected more from the ministry than that they would have sanctioned such an application at this moment. When that ministry had been formed, he certainly entertained no great hopes of it. But since then he had been encouraged to expect that it would have at least adopted economy as a principle of its government. Though the proposition of a pension to the family of Mr. Canning might have grown out of a compromise between him and some who were still in the ministry, that compromise was not to bind the House of Commons, nor were they thereby to be influenced in their determination on this question. Pursuing this reasoning, he should be disposed to 686 oppose the grant, however transcendent the merit of the person for whom the presumed claim to public gratitude was set up; but it should be recollected, that the whole of the late Mr. Canning's life had not been uniformly the subject of eulogy. His opinions on our foreign relations, and on the abolition of the restrictions on commerce, had entitled him to respect certainly; but there were parts of his career, particularly in its earlier stage, which gave him little pleasure to reflect upon. Others might act as they thought proper upon this occasion. For himself, he felt, however painful the discharge of the duty must be, that he had stated sufficient grounds not only to justify him in withholding his assent to the proposition, but to induce others to concur with him in opposing the motion.
§ Mr. Stratford Canning
said, that, however delicately he felt himself placed with respect to the discussion of the merits of a distinguished statesman, he could not, without a dereliction of duty, abstain from addressing a few words to the House. The noble lord had confessed, that if this grant had stood, not on the grounds of liberality and generosity, but on justice, he would even then have opposed it. The force of this objection went to the extent, that let the merit of the party be what it might, he would not sanction the application, because, forsooth, the country was in so impoverished a state, that the paltry debt of gratitude to that merit, amounting to no more than 3,000l. a year for only one life, could not be discharged by this great and powerful nation. Thus the noble lord would not only set aside generosity to save this trifle to the country, but justice. He did not envy the noble lord this sentiment, nor would the House participate in it. What sort of language was this, to be disseminated in foreign countries? But, if the question turned on the merits of Mr. Canning, it would be rather singular, considering that, during part of that period, he was associated in the government with the nearest relative of that noble lord. Those actions, however, which the noble lord blamed, had been; sanctioned at the time by large majorities in the House; therefore it was unnecessary to say any thing further, than that Mr. Canning's memory and services stood now before the committee. With regard to the governorship of India, the committee were to decide whether he had not made 687 a sacrifice of emolument and advantage to the public emergency. He was the more surprised at the source from whence this opposition arose, because he thought the noble lord had expressed his accession to the government of Mr. Canning [" No, no," from lord Althorp]. Certainly, a disposition to support Mr. Canning's government had been avowed. If, however, the noble lord was so dissatisfied with the former part of Mr. Canning's political conduct, he thought the latter was sufficiently meritorious to render the discharge of this debt an act of justice. In saying so, he felt not as a connexion of that great man, but as a member of the House of Commons, jealous of its honour, and of the faith and honour of the country.
§ Lord Milton
said, that the difficulty he felt in delivering his sentiments on the subject was greatly increased by the course which had been pursued by his noble friend. He entirely agreed with his noble friend as to the financial difficulties in which the country was involved, though he could not go with him the length of supposing that those difficulties were of such a nature as to prevent the House from considering, even for a moment, the propriety of coming to such a vote as was now under their consideration. If he could bring his mind to that state, he would be saved all the trouble of further deliberation. But, great as he admitted the difficulties of the country to be, they were not so insurmountable as to put an absolute veto on the proposition of the chancellor of the Exchequer, supposing there existed fit grounds for making that proposition to the House. It was not his intention to enter into the history of the political life of Mr. Canning. He could not have sat so many years in the House of Commons, without having, upon many and upon most occasions, differed from him in opinion. It would, therefore, be easy for him to select grounds of opposition, which would justify him, were he to confine himself to particular acts, in voting against the motion; but, as there appeared, in the course of every man's life, a mixed character, he could not feel himself authorized, in judging of another, to decide upon his merits, without taking the whole of his conduct into consideration. Could the stoutest partisan of any political leader, get up and say of the political conduct of him whom he supported, that it was free from all reproach? 688 [Hear, hear]. Could the stoutest opponent of any man say, on the contrary, that the whole of his conduct excluded him from all approbation? The two propositions were equally untenable. Whatever might be said of the different aspects under which Mr. Canning's public conduct might be viewed, the fairest way of looking at his character was by taking that period in which he acted for himself, and called on this country successfully to act with him in the support of liberal opinions. It was impossible to look back at the last six years of Mr. Canning's power, for place did not always confer power,—it was impossible to contemplate these last six years, when the government had called his vigorous mind into full action, without taking a high measure of the claims which he had established to public gratitude. He had held out a hand of encouragement and support to all the liberal governments in all parts of the world. The future historian, looking at these facts, could not fail to describe him as one to whose enlightened policy the whole world was largely indebted. Not England, not Europe, alone, but the whole population of the globe, in its most remote quarters, were acted on by the free and healthy spirit of his administration. Under these impressions, he should feel that he had acted upon ill-considered principles, if he were capable of raking up the political mistakes of Mr. Canning in the course of a long political life, and especially as that life was occupied in transactions of great difficulty; and when the best course to be pursued was not so clear at the moment, as those might think who lived after the events, and argued from what had since happened, what ought to have been done. Giving the proposition the fairest consideration, he thought that the House would reap more honour, in the opinion of posterity, from acceding to the vote which was proposed, than by opposing it.
§ Lord Morpeth
said, that, as he was the person who had, at an early part of the session, given notice of his intention to bring forward a motion on this subject, he felt no doubt that the committee would exercise some degree of forbearance towards him, while he addressed a few observations to their notice. Indeed the speech of the right hon. gentleman, and still more the speech of his noble friend, made it impossible for him to refrain from uttering his sentiments upon the subject. On a former 689 occasion he might have incurred the imputation of presumption, surrounded as he was by so many who had known Mr. Canning so much longer than himself; who had had better means of appreciating his talents; and who had better capacity for doing him honour. To clear himself from that imputation, it was his intention to have said, that, as no one had done what he thought necessary, he had been prepared to undertake the task; and, from the opening of the session, had determined on bringing the subject before the House, unless it was taken up by some more competent person. He was aware that, to give others an opportunity of doing this, it was necessary, in this new-modelled administration, that the subject should be left for a time at least unnoticed. He had acted upon that conviction, and, for two months, had remained silent; but then, thinking he had waited long enough, he had called the notice of ministers to the subject; and still, with a view of giving them an opportunity of coming forward, he had named a remote day for its discussion. He expected that he should be anticipated in his intention of making his proposition to the House. He found, in fact, that he had been anticipated; and yesterday he withdrew his notice. His feelings were satisfied, when he understood that the task he had proposed to himself was undertaken by one who would be more able to discharge it. He rejoiced that it had been transferred from his feeble and isolated efforts, to one of those whose authority and influence within those walls were necessarily greater than his own. On that point his feelings were satisfied, but they were not on all; and he must add, that, in his opinion, the proposition was hardly adequate to its avowed object—to acknowledge the merits of the dead, to meet the exigencies of the living, or to record the sympathy and gratitude of a great nation to a meritorious servant. He might be asked, how it was that with these opinions he could support the proposition, and why he did not introduce another? The reason was this. On a matter of this nature it was a point of importance to secure unanimity: any course was advisable, that would avoid unpleasant discussion, and steer clear of unnecessary irritation; and anybody who, like himself, wished the best success to the measure, ought to make up his mind to sacrifice much that his feelings would otherwise urge him to retain. He was glad to hear that there was no in- 690 tention, on the part of the introducer of this measure, to place the claims or the merits of Mr. Canning on the same ground as those of any other person who might have plodded through office for a corresponding length of time; and he was also glad that the right hon. gentleman had not put the proposition on the ground of a provision for the peerage. It was safer not to do so. It was better, for the sake of the precedent, and for every other consideration. The present proposition was not the first of the sort, nor did it recommend the grant of a larger sum of money than had before been given to the family of a minister. The grant to pay Mr. Pitt's debts, and that to provide for the family of Mr. Perceval, were both greater in amount than that now proposed. He did not wish unduly to aggravate the burthens of the people; but he thought they would not so consider a tribute to one whose policy they had approved, and whose measures they had supported. He did not think it necessary to enter into a defence of Mr. Canning's policy, or to show that he had been absurdly called more brilliant than practical—an objection which seemed to resolve itself into this, that he could not be practical, merely because he was brilliant. Yet, his proposals on the Corn-laws had been recently characterised by one of his majesty's ministers, in a way which left no doubt of the sound practical knowledge of Mr. Canning, and of his facility in its application. His foreign policy was also the subject of just eulogium; and, though they might now hear with regret of the treacherous tyranny of a prince who had lately quitted these shores, they should recollect, that Mr. Canning's policy had prevented war when almost on the point of being declared, and when it had been clearly intimated that war was intended; and that if that policy had been strictly followed up, this country might not, perhaps, have to regret the treachery to which he had alluded. He had stated what had been before done in cases similar to the present. There were precedents of grants for public funerals, for public monuments, for the payment of debts, and for provision for the families of deceased statesmen. In the case of Mr. Canning, the monument to his name would be raised by subscription among his friends and admirers; and he trusted that when erected it would be a splendid monument of British art. The funeral of Mr. Canning had been private; he had no 691 debts to be discharged; and the only way for the country to testify its approbation of his services, was by granting a provision for his family—a mode that would have been, could we have known of it, the most acceptable to the feelings of the dead. Could they hesitate about granting that provision, when they had acknowledged so often the merit and wisdom of his counsels, and when, even by their vote of last night, they had rendered a high tribute of applause to one of the great principles for which he long and strenuously contended, and in the triumph of which he would, if living, most sincerely have rejoiced? Of all the objections that might possibly be raised to this proposition, that of economy was the only one which he approached with any degree of respect, for, to his mind, the greater part of the duties of ministers and of parliaments was included in that single word economy. Now, he thought that that object of economy would be best obtained by voting such a proposition as this; for there was nothing that would stimulate the exertions of ministers, and secure his disinterested labour for the benefit of the people, more than to let them see that their families, to whose interests, under other circumstances, they would feel an exclusive devotion, would be provided for by the country, to whose advantage they sacrificed their time, their fortune, and their health. Such, at least, were the sacrifices which Mr. Canning had made, and such the grounds on which the claims of his family were rested. He was not one of those who would contend that the people were bound to minister to the extravagance, or to supply the profligate expenditure of their public servants. When such persons wasted their own fortunes through their own folly, they must take the consequences of their extravagance; but those who knew Mr. Canning knew, from his unostentatious habit, that that charge was not one which could truly be brought against him.—The right hon. gentleman had told them, what he believed was generally admitted, that the allowance for those who held the highest situations in the state was hardly sufficient; and, if that statement was true with regard to any of the public servants, it was peculiarly so with respect to Mr. Canning; who, during the last five years of his life, had held two offices which more than any other required the frequent and liberal exercise of hospitality—he meant the offices of leader of 692 the House of Commons, and Secretary for Foreign Affairs. In the office of Foreign Secretary, his policy had succeeded in presenting to the world a spectacle, such as had never before been witnessed in this country; for, at his table were mixed together men from all countries, and the envoys from Mexico, Peru, and Brazil, sat side by side with the ambassadors from the ancient and powerful houses of Hapsburg, Bourbon and Braganza. He trusted they would all concur in voting for the proposition of the right hon. gentleman; but he would say of it, as Mr. Canning had said of a vote proposed and carried nearly unanimously after the death of Mr. Pitt—"I do not wish for your vote as an eleemosynary grant for posthumous necessities—not as a boon from your pity or compassion, but as a public debt due to a highly meritorious public servant." He repeated his hope that they would pass this vote as a fair and honourable, though not an adequate acknowledgment for the services of a statesman who, in the discharge of his public duty, had forgotten all considerations of private advantage.
§ Sir R. Wilson
said, he would state, in a few words, the reasons which induced him not to give a silent vote upon the present motion. No one was more deeply impressed than he was with the duty which he owed to his constituents and to the country at large, to watch over the public expenditure; but, whilst he held that frugality was a duty, and economy a growing necessity, he likewise held that there was a generosity becoming the character of a great nation, and a remunerative liberality which was calculated to promote the best interests of the country. He was not one of those persons who thought that these remunerative rewards and distinctions should be applied only to those great men who were employed in the military and naval service of the country: but that they should be extended to those who, by their laudable exertions in the civil departments of the state, had promoted the public welfare. Did the late Mr. Canning stand in such a situation with regard to the public, or did he not? Had he established his claims to the remunerative rewards and distinctions of the state, or had he not? He agreed that there might be found in his conduct public transactions which might not secure for him the general suffrage of that House. He might lament over inequalities, which were inse- 693 parable from the character of man; but, on the other hand, when he recollected the great services which Mr. Canning had rendered to his country—when he recollected the regret and lamentation with which the intelligence of his decease was received, not only throughout the British empire, but throughout the world—when he recollected how South America had moaned his loss throughout all her rising states—when he recollected how the talent of France, to commemorate his fame, had combined her feelings with the general sympathy of the world—when he recollected all this, he had sufficient proof before him, that, from the policy of the late Mr. Canning had emanated great benefit to the cause of liberty, and indeed to the general civilization of the world. Under these circumstances, he felt himself imperatively called upon to give his vote in support of the motion.
§ Sir M. W. Ridley
said, that nothing could be more painful to him than to oppose a motion, in which considerations of a personal nature were inevitably involved; but, painful as it might be, he would shortly state the reasons which led him to concur with the view of this motion, which had been taken by his noble friend, the member for Northamptonshire. The right hon. gentleman who followed his noble friend was mistaken in supposing that his noble friend's objection to the motion rested on the amount of the grant proposed. It rested on no such foundation. The amount of the grant was, he admitted, only 3,000l. a year; but, as the House was now inquiring, not merely how it could save 3,000l. a year, but how it could save 300l. a year he thought that the principle of granting 3,000l, a year, where nothing ought to be granted, was one to which the House ought not merely not to accede, but which it ought to consider as a sufficient ground for rejecting the present motion. He admitted that the present was not a fit time for discussing the wisdom of Mr. Canning's foreign policy; but, as the merit of that policy had been referred to as an argument to induce them to support the motion, he felt himself compelled to state, that he could not reconcile himself to support it on the grounds stated by the other side. He admired, like every man who had heard Mr. Canning, his brilliant eloquence; he had listened to his speeches on various occasions, with the most profound admiration; but he 694 had yet to learn, that the eloquence and talent of a minister were sufficient grounds to justify parliament in making a provision for his family. He was likewise of opinion, that Mr. Canning's powers as an orator, great as they were, were frequently employed in dazzling rather than convincing the minds of his countrymen; and that they were sometimes employed in inculcating doctrines which were not becoming the minister of this free country. He therefore could not consent to allow that the eloquence of Mr. Canning, during the whole of his public career, and the policy which he pursued during the few last years of it, were sufficient grounds for appropriating 3,000l. a year out of the public purse to the benefit of his family. He could not resist the present opportunity of performing an act of justice to Mr. Canning, which, at a former period of his life, the influence of excited party feelings had compelled him to withhold from him. He alluded to his own vote on a motion which, some years ago was brought forward by the hon. member for the county of Durham, who had recently been summoned to the other House of parliament. He would now declare that, after giving to the subject the fullest consideration, he was extremely sorry that he had concurred in the vote of censure which was then moved against Mr. Canning. It was not, however by voting a pension to Mr. Canning's family, that he was to make reparation to Mr. Canning, for the injury which he had then done to his feelings and to his character. That would be a reparation which it would be as much beneath him to offer as it would be beneath the family of Mr. Canning to receive. In conclusion, he could not, consistently with his sense of duty, and his deliberate opinion as to the public conduct and policy of the late Mr. Canning, which he had for years opposed, give his vote in favour of the grant.
said, he felt himself very unexpectedly called upon to make a few observations to the committee. He was one of those members who last year had endeavoured to express to the government, of which Mr. Canning was the head, the confidence which they were inclined to repose in its disposition to husband the resources of the country, and to secure the welfare of the state. Though it was with considerable diffidence that he ventured to differ on any subject from his 695 noble friend, the member for Northamptonshire, he could not refrain from declaring, that he dissented entirely from the view which his noble friend had taken of this question.
§ Mr. Hume
said, he was anxious to offer a few words to the committee on this motion, because he was afraid it was likely to be led away by the eloquent appeal which had been made to its passions, by the noble lord who had addressed them in support of this grant, and also by the right hon. relative of the departed statesman. He considered the present motion to be of great importance in a public point of view. If it were carried, they could never refuse to make a similar grant to the family of any gentleman in office which thought proper to apply for it. What had Mr. Canning done for the public, which entitled his family to so munificent a reward for his services? Had he, like the duke of Wellington, done any thing for his country which ought to make the House of Commons anxious to signalize his career, and to mark his decease? He was not aware of any such occurrence. If, then, their vote on this occasion could not rest upon such a basis, would hon. gentlemen consent that it should rest on the whole of Mr. Canning's conduct during the thirty-two years of his political career? He was sure they would not: for Mr. Canning had been the regular and unwearied advocate of all the measures which, during that time, they had denounced, as unconstitutional. Until Mr. Canning became premier, none of the gentlemen by whom he was surrounded, had been in the habit of approving the measures which obtained his uniform support; and he was certain that if this measure had been proposed five years ago, it would have been vehemently attacked by many of the gentlemen who were most strenuous in defending its propriety. He should like to know what Mr. Canning had done for his country during the last five years, which entitled him to such a tribute of their esteem and gratitude. If he did his duty as a minister, did he do any more? Was the mere performance of his duty sufficient to justify the chancellor of the Exchequer in calling upon the House to make a provision for Mr. Canning's family on the score that, when his majesty had appointed him to a lucrative situation in India, in which he might have amassed a fortune, he chose to stay at 696 home for the benefit of his country? If Mr. Canning had one feeling stronger than another, it was the feeling of ambition; and could they believe that Mr. Canning had any difficulty in making his choice, when the government of so distant a dependency as India was in one scale, and the probability of being the first minister in the first empire of the world was in the other? Mr. Canning made his election between them: and if he suffered a pecuniary loss by the election which he made, surely that was no reason why the public should be called upon to make it good. But, said a noble lord, "Mr. Canning was a patriot." When, where, and how had Mr. Canning earned that title? When had he advocated the rights of the many against the few? When had he shown himself the friend of liberty and the enemy of oppression? He asked these questions, because he believed that the noble lord had been misled by his friendship to Mr. Canning. He trusted, however, that the committee, before it suffered itself to be misled, would consider for a few moments the manner in which it was now called upon to act. They were to reward one of Mr. Canning's sons with a pension of 3,000l. a-year, as a mark of the gratitude which they felt for the services of the father. He trusted, however, that they would be just before they were generous; and if they were, they would consider whether they were in a situation to make any grants of public money, for which an overwhelming necessity was not established. Would hon. gentlemen mention to him any act which Mr. Canning had done, as a minister, for which his emoluments as minister were not a sufficient reward? Was his family in want of assistance? The committee had been told that, as an act of compassion, the family of Mr. Canning did not wish for this grant. Was the country, then, in such a flourishing state, that we ought to force a large sum of money upon a reluctant family? Nobody would maintain so monstrous a proposition. The grounds which he had stated were sufficient to justify him in opposing this grant. He had, however, another reason. He considered it to be a dangerous doctrine to hold out to official men, that, if they neglected to provide for their families during their lifetime, the country would do it after their death; and, he was sorry to say 697 that the doctrine, dangerous as it was, had too often been acted on in the course of the last twenty years. They had been told, that the conduct of Mr. Canning as a statesman had been so grateful to his majesty and to the country, that both were anxious to reward it, by making a provision for his family. Why, then, did not his majesty grant Mr. Canning's son a pension out of the civil list? Surely the House could not be aware that if ministers were so strongly inclined to remunerate Mr. Canning's merits, there was an annual fund of 200,000l. out of which they could do it. There was the English pension list of 95,000l., the Irish pension list of 70,000l., and the Scotch pension list of 30,000l. Let Mr. Canning's family be placed upon one of those lists, and let not the country, which was already over-burthened, be called upon to make provision for it. If his majesty has so great an opinion of Mr. Canning's merits, let him reward it out of the sources expressly provided for such purposes. For the reasons he had stated, he was determined, if he stood alone, to take the sense of the committee upon this grant.
Lord George Bentinck
said, he had no intention to have taken any part in a debate which must naturally be so interesting to his feelings; but, after the sentiments to which the hon. member for Aberdeen had given utterance, and the expressions in which he had clothed those sentiments, he felt himself compelled to address the committee, lest he, as one of the connexions of the late Mr. Canning, should be supposed to concur in their justice. With respect to the objections which the hon. member had raised to this grant, either on account of the alleged demerits of his illustrious relative, or on the narrow grounds of that false economy to which the hon. member was so partial, he would only make one observation, and that was, that he was quite sure the hon. member would not carry the committee along with him. The hon. member had found fault with the friends of Mr. Canning for the grounds on which this demand had been brought before parliament. He would tell the hon. member for Aberdeen, that if there were no other grounds for the remuneration now proposed, his right hon. relative had laid sufficient grounds for it in having always been the foremost in opposing the hon. member's theoretical reforms, and his petty, paltry projects of 698 economy. It was one of Mr. Canning's proudest merits that he had made the hon. member for Aberdeen, and the party which went with him, shrink into his present miserable dimensions. The country must be sunk low indeed, if it could not afford to pay its meritorious servants. It had frequently rewarded its ministers of State and its military officers, who had distinguished themselves by their public services. It had rewarded the duke of Wellington very largely. It had voted to his grace at different times 700,000l. of the public money; and, was there a single man in the House who grudged the duke a farthing of it? The country must be sunk low indeed, if it could hold out no higher reward to its meritorious ministers than that which they received in the annual stipends attached to their respective offices. He was sorry to hear his noble friend (lord Althorp) assert, that it would be an insult to the feelings of the country to accede to this grant. He did not conceive that any person who had witnessed the sorrow which pervaded the land not more than six months since, would think that there was any disinclination in the country to show respect to the memory of the late Mr. Canning. He little thought last night, when that measure, for the success of which Mr. Canning so long laboured was once more carried, that we should this night be called upon to deny him a reward for his meritorious services. But so it was; and they had that day listened to a cold-blooded repetition of the various invectives which party rage had fabricated against him. For his own part, if he could quarrel with the vote of that evening, it would be on account of the coldness with which it had been brought forward. He would say, on behalf of the family of Mr. Canning, "We scorn to accept this vote as a vote of pity and compassion. We claim it on the broad ground of service rendered to the country, and on that ground alone we consent to receive it." After the turn which the debate had unexpectedly taken, he should have left the House with pain, had it not been for the speech of his noble friend near him, and also for the manly speech of the gallant officer. He thanked, them both for the manner in which they had supported the resolution.
said, that in the line of argument which he was going to pursue, it was his intention to speak of the late Mr. 699 Canning with that respect which his great talents in public, and his pleasant manners in private society, entitled him to receive from all who knew him. In the course of his life he had had much intercourse with Mr. Canning; no dissention ever took place between them; and all his recollections of that great man were recollections of satisfaction, except on one particular question. He was now, however, very unexpectedly called upon to consent to a grant of public money to the family of Mr. Canning. It was said, that such a grant was not conformable to precedent, and it was promised that it should not be made one for future imitation. He wondered how any persons could suppose, that if the grant was once made, future ministers would not endeavour to put the merits of future statesmen on a level with those of Mr. Canning, and to propose similar remuneration for their families. He had expected that some alteration would have been made in the bill in the hands of the chairman during the session; but then he expected that it would be an alteration which would retrench and not augment the expenditure which took place under it. That bill, though it went under the name of his bill, he disclaimed; for, owing to the alterations which had been made in it, it had led to much greater extravagance than that which it was intended to check. In consequence of the recommendation of the finance committee, the House might have to reduce considerably, before the close of the session, the compensations, remunerations, and annuities granted to the families of those who had exerted themselves, and perhaps died in the public service. But how could they ever look in the faces of the persons whose small pittances they were going to make still smaller, if they now threw away in one sum, 60,000l. on a lady who moved in their own rank of life? How could they reduce the pensions of clerks with 300l. a year, when they gave at once 3,000l. a year to the son of Mr. Canning? Much better would it be for ministers to look at the ordinary expenses of the country, with a view to their reduction, than to propose throwing it away in this manner. He was perfectly ready to admit, that the means of the country were not so reduced as to be inadequate to the remuneration of eminent services to the state; but in this class he certainly could not, in this sense at least, comprehend Mr. Canning. Allusion 700 had been made to the services of the duke of Wellington. He meant not to disparage the late Mr. Canning when he said, that surely there was no comparison between the merits to which he could lay claim, and those of such a person as the duke of Wellington. With all his admiration for Mr. Canning's talents and eloquence, he must be permitted to declare, that for this country he had proved a most unfortunate minister. This very day on which they were called upon to discuss his claims for having conferred eminent public services on his country, they had received intelligence which must lie heavily upon Mr. Canning's memory as a minister. They now knew for a certain fact, of the total failure of his interference in the internal affairs of Portugal; and who knew whether they were not, at that very moment, on the eve of a war with the Porte, from interference springing out of the same mischievous policy? It was Mr. Canning's policy which had brought about these evils [Cries of hear, and murmurs]. It was that which had entailed upon his country failures of the most disastrous kind [Cry of hear, and no]. He was most ready to admit that Mr. Canning meant well and anxiously for the good of his country; but he repeated, that he had been sadly mistaken in the policy to which he had resorted. Much had been said of the sacrifices which were made when men chose public life for their employment. Upon this subject his opinion had always been, that men who embarked in the public service made the selection at their own option, and had no right to turn round and expect, in the ordinary course of things, this kind of indemnification. It was no argument with him to state, that had Mr. Canning pursued the profession of the law, he must have risen to the highest station and honours of that profession. Such would, in all probability, have been the case; still it furnished no reason for adopting the principle of these grants out of the public money. Too many compensations had been already given to men who were, probably, taken from a single brief. He had no notion of planting such people upon the public purse. He must condemn all precedents of this kind. They were very injurious in their tendency, and had led the House often to deplore the adoption of this principle of generous but wasteful extravagance.—The right hon. gentleman had said, that he wished, by the present 701 proposition, to amend the Pension Act. Yes; but the principle of his amendment went to make it ten times more extravagant. He had said, that Mr. Canning had additional claims, because of his having surrendered a high and rich office in India. True; but when he made that surrender, as it was called, he did it at his own option, and at the same time he obtained as a substitute an office of higher honour at home, and a contingent pension. They ought, besides to recollect, that Mr. Canning in this transaction had surrendered no emoluments: for, not having gone out to India, he had received none. In every view which he could take of the present proposition, he must oppose it. It was an evasion of the economical principle, and a waste of the public money. Governments always required watching in pecuniary matters. It was but recently that the finance committee had discovered a device by which ministers were enabled to evade the principle of the half-pay annuity fund, and, instead of pursuing a plan which would go to its eventual extermination, they had managed to substitute young lives for others which were old and nearly worn out; thus putting a new class of persons in a better condition than their predecessors. It had been said, that Mr. Canning would, in the probable course of nature, have lived longer, had it not been for the cares and fatigues of office; and that it was reasonable to indemnify his family for pecuniary loss on that account, considering the contingent pension which he must have enjoyed had he lived. This was quite a fallacy. Upon the merits of Mr. Canning as a minister, he had already spoken; let the House only look at what his measures had cost the country? Would any man deny that Mr. Canning had incurred great expense to the country, in his endeavour to realize those schemes which he had projected for re-modelling the policy of Spain, Portugal, and America? Did the House know, that besides the expense of sending out the armament itself to Portugal, not less than 160,000l. had been expended upon the extraordinaries attendant on those movements? True, they were to have a claim for this part of the amount upon the Portuguese treasury; but, if the chancellor of the Exchequer were to call upon Don Miguel to liquidate this debt, what chance was there of a farthing of the sum finding its way into our coffers. Then, again, look at his measures with re- 702 gard to Turkey. He certainly could not fairly put to Mr. Canning's account the loss of lives of those brave men who were sacrificed in the disastrous battle of Navarino; but, with the general expense of the expedition, he was certainly chargeable, including the damage done to our fleet [Murmurs]. There was one other thing in the way of expense with which Mr. Canning was more personally chargeable. Within the short space of two years he had expended 42,000l. of the public money solely upon his private and personal residence [Cries of "Oh ! oh !"]. He reiterated, that it was true [A cry of "where?"]. In Downing-Street, at the Foreign-office. Had he not converted it into his domestic dwelling for his own personal accommodation? He did not mean to say that his successor in office had not the benefit of these improvements; but still the expense was unjustifiable. A foreign minister ought not to fit up a house for his own convenience out of the public money; and, for this purpose, he repeated, Mr. Canning had expended 42,000l. This was a pure job for Mr. Canning's mere private accommodation. With regard to the pensions, which had been cited as precedents, and particularly that of lord Chatham, he really did not think that the name of that great man and that of Mr. Canning could be, for a moment, put in comparison. Both of them were eminent men, and admirable in respect to their eloquence; but, contrasted as statesmen, their names ought not to be mentioned in the same breath. As to the case of Mr. Perceval, considering that he was cut off in an extraordinary manner, that did appear, under all the circumstances, to be a case partly of justice and partly of generosity. Mr. Perceval, too, it should be remembered, had been prime minister of the country for several years, and, while he had been in that situation, he had conducted the public affairs successfully and most honourably. With regard to this case, he wished it had never been brought before him, since it was impossible he could concur in it.
Mr. Secretary Huskisson
said, that, having been alluded to by the hon. member for Montrose as one of the nearest and dearest friends of the late Mr. Canning, and having been connected with him by the ties of personal attachment throughout rather a long political life, he felt perfectly sensible, before he came down to the 703 House, that, were he to appear prominent in this debate, he should be liable to the reflection of being actuated by that bias which this connexion would naturally suggest. He had, therefore, felt anxious not to say one word upon the subject before the House. But, after the speech of his hon. friend who had spoken last, and spoken in such a manner of his lamented friend— [here Mr. Huskisson laboured under strong emotion, and was loudly cheered during a momentary pause]—he could not sit silent; and with all these disadvantages pressing around him, he could not refrain from giving vent to the feelings which agitated his bosom. His hon. friend had laid great stress upon what he was pleased to call this mischievous precedent, and had asked the chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he wished to establish such an example as this grant would afford. Now, his right hon. friend meant on this occasion to establish no precedent, and he must say, that he looked with some surprise at the attempt which was made to dwell upon this proposition as one which constituted a serious precedent. What was the fact? Because the parliament had, on a former occasion, taken away from the Crown certain offices, having little duties, or being sinecures, no longer deemed desirable to be upheld, but which had been previously bestowed as a reward for eminent services, and vested this act of the legislature in the Crown by way of indemnity, they were to be told that they were creating a new office, and proposing an extravagant waste of the public money. He remembered that, when the new arrangement was made, by which the Crown surrendered its prerogative of rewarding by offices of this description, it was asked would they limit the Crown by the new act, and shut it out from the means of rewarding able and faithful services? To this it was at the time answered—he forgot whether it was by his hon. friend himself—that, whenever a special case arose, it could only be necessary to make application to parliament, where a desire would always be found to do justice to eminent services performed for the state. In this spirit, on this occasion, they had come to parliament; and how were they met? not by a fulfilment of the former pledge; but by an exclamation—" You are going to create a most dangerous precedent." The answer is, they were not going to create any such evil, but were merely calling upon 704 parliament to fulfil its own expressed anticipation of the claims for the performance of meritorious services to the state. The Crown had, upon conditions, surrendered that which it need not have otherwise conceded, and it was hard to say, when they now came forward in the full spirit of the contract, that they were attempting to introduce a most dangerous precedent. What had the dead weight act to do with this discussion, seeing that the real object was, to give efficacy to an act which was entirely within the spirit of his hon. friend's own principle of economy? The arrangement which pervaded the act given to the Crown, when the sinecure offices were abolished, was simply this: —The Crown was empowered to grant six pensions, not exceeding in the aggregate 40,000l. a-year, to ministers who had performed eminent public services, according to their different stations and degrees. If the Crown were in course of paying the whole of this sum (which was not the case), the public would have no right to complain, according to the strict terms of the agreement; for it was a compensation given by parliament, in exchange for the surrender of a much larger and more valuable amount of patronage. The only limits were six offices, and 40,000l. What was the present proposition? To grant one of these for life to the son of Mr. Canning, in consideration of those services for which his father could, unfortunately, no longer receive reward in his own person. This entailed no increase upon the principle of the fund: it gave one claimant for another; it substituted one life for that which had been withdrawn. That act, be it remembered, was passed in times of infinitely greater pressure upon the finances of the country than could now be said to exist; it was passed likewise while a committee of finance was sitting, and with a careful and deliberate attention to public economy. His hon. friend had said, that Mr. Canning had optionally given up the lucrative situation in India, which had been conferred upon him, when his majesty called him to the high and honourable situation in his councils at home, and must therefore have considered what he had received as a full equivalent for that which he had surrendered—that, in fact, he had heartily exchanged the foreign service for the more glorious opening of his ambition at home. Now, upon the sense entertained by Mr. Canning upon what his hon. friend had 705 been pleased to call his choice, he begged to be heard for one moment. He regretted to be obliged to make reference, on such an occasion, to information derived from the privacy of confidential intercourse. He would state, however, upon his own personal credit, that whatever were the feelings of others, who were near and dear to Mr. Canning, it had for years been his own anxious wish (owing to circumstances that were likely to press upon the acute and sensitive mind of such a man) to be placed in some public situation, however it might sacrifice or compromise the fair and legitimate scope of his ambition, which, while it enabled him to perform adequate public services, would enable him also to place upon a better footing his wife's private fortune, which he had decreased, and the inheritance of his children which he had impaired. He would not go so far as to say that this was a prospect fixed upon Mr. Canning's mind, or an object that he was bent upon pursuing, for it was difficult to trace the springs of so susceptible a temperament; but under the circumstances, it was quite natural, considering his means and his family, that while he honourably sought a situation to render service to his country, he should not be unmindful of the means of repairing the family fortune, which he had diminished while in the service of his country.—His hon. friend seemed to think, that these conflicts between the acceptance of particular offices, and the performance of different duties, were perfectly optional. This was an egregious mistake, and a wrong view of the springs of human action. It was not the principle which governed public men in this country—he hoped and believed not. The principle of Mr. Canning was, when his majesty had formally called upon him to forego one situation and fill another—not to look to the right or to the left—not to consider emolument, but public duty, and to obey the commands of his sovereign, if there was nothing in the nature of the proposition submitted to him incompatible with his public principles and personal honour. He had in his possession a letter written by Mr. Canning, a very few months after he had relinquished the golden prospects of the East, and when his right hon. friend seemed to think he was engaged in the cheerful gratification of his splendid ambition, in which, speaking of the toils and anxieties of his official situation, he used these expressive words— 706Would to God I were now on beard the Jupiter!"—the name of the ship des-stined for his voyage to India. So much, therefore, for his lamented friend's gratifying option: so much for the pleasures and profits of office, which he was supposed to have enjoyed with so much satisfaction ! He entirely concurred with his hon. friend, as to the necessity of enforcing a principle of economy; but, if he was not mistaken, his hon. friend had more than once acknowledged that the great offices of the state were not in this country sufficiently paid. He (Mr. H.) had, indeed, always thought it would be a most unwise policy even with regard to economy, to raise the stipends of the high officers of state. His reason had been, that, circumstanced as this country was in having an aristocracy possessing great wealth, a number of commoners likewise with large fortunes, among whom great talents were so often found suited to the service of the country to whom the salary of office would be no object; such a feeling ought on principle to be cultivated, while at the same time the Crown should not be deprived of the means of calling into its service those talents which might be found placed in less fortunate circumstances in the community. He should be sorry to see the Crown restricted in the privilege of benefiting by the talents of any of these classes, whether by being excluded from the choice of servants among the less wealthy ranks, or tied down to the aristocracy, to the exclusion of whatever advantages might be available in other quarters. His conclusion therefore was, that it was a wise principle to keep the salaries of high and efficient offices at a comparatively low rate; and, whenever great services had been received, and want of adequate means the result to the individual or his family, to come down to parliament, once perhaps, in a quarter of a century, to make an appeal for the payment of the debts of some statesman like Mr. Pitt, or some provision for the family of such a person as Mr. Canning. This was an infinitely more economical course, than raising the salaries of officers of state, which would entail a permanent expense to the nation. Instances would often occur when, as in the case of the present Secretary for Foreign Affairs, the earl of Dudley, or in that of the late Secretary for the Home Department, the marquis of Lansdowne, salary would be nothing for 707 these distinguished persons having always large establishments, would have to incur, in consequence of official station, little or no additional expenditure. The more economical course was, to leave these salaries as they stood, and to leave the door open for any special case like the present.—Another charge of his hon. friend was, that Mr. Canning had expended a large sum of the public money, for fitting up his private residence. Now, he did not know the amount laid out upon the office in Downing-street; but he knew that, with the extension of the business of the Foreign Office, it became necessary to enlarge the building, and, when the expediency and value of personal residence was evident, and when it was considered that, in that neighbourhood it was not easy to obtain a house with suitable accommodation for maintaining the scale of hospitality which the office required, he thought it not too much that some expense should be incurred to secure such a public object; but he must repeat, that that expense could not have amounted to any thing like the sum mentioned by his hon. friend, in the way in which he had put it. Many persons who had filled office received more than their official salary as the reward for their services. Lord Grenville, for instance, had received other rewards besides the salary attached to the office, which he had filled with so much honour to himself, and so much advantage to the country. He mentioned this, for the purpose of showing, that his hon. friend was not borne out in his argument on that point, by a reference to facts.—His hon. friend had said that, instead of the country being a debtor to Mr. Canning for his services, she was his creditor on account of the expenditure of which he had been the cause, which had taken place in the foreign department while he was in office; and his hon. friend had told them to look to Portugal, to Greece, and to the passage of the Pruth by the Russians. Every hon. member must see the unfairness of discussing such questions on the present occasion. Standing there as a minister of the Crown, and a colleague of the late Mr. Canning, and willing to encounter all the responsibility of those measures upon which his hon. friend opposite had passed such a sweeping condemnation, and ready as he was, on the fit occasion, to enter upon the defence of those measures, he would confess he felt, and sure he was it was a feeling in which 708 the House participated, that it was exceedingly unfair to introduce such a subject into this discussion. He would say this to his hon. friend, that the expedition to Portugal was sent out with the concurrence of every minister who then sat in the cabinet, and that the measure had been approved of in another House, by the illustrious duke who now presided over his majesty's councils. He would say more, that that expedition was sent out to defend the oldest ally of this country against foreign machinations and aggression—that that was the sole, entire, and definite, purpose for which it was sent there; and that it had completely accomplished that purpose. The independence of Portugal had been preserved; she had been secured against foreign invasion, and those dangers had been dissipated, against which they had been called upon, by the faith of treaties and by the policy of this country, to provide. Nevertheless, his hon. friend would render Mr. Canning's memory responsible for the expenses of this expedition—he would charge the purse of his family, if he could—and he would, if it were in his power, call upon them to pay for that expedition with their last shilling. Nay, his hon. friend would go still further, and charge upon the memory of Mr. Canning that folly and infatuation which evil counsels had produced in the instance of the prince regent of Portugal. But though he would say that the prince regent of Portugal had, by his mistaken and infatuated conduct, forfeited his word to this country, still he would insist, that Portugal had been preserved a free and independent state,—that it had been rescued from foreign aggression. All the engagements to which this country was bound by the faith: of its alliance had been fulfilled, and, if the expedition had cost British money, it was not at the forfeit of British honour. But the Russians had passed the Pruth, and, according to his hon. friend, it was quite I just that Mr. Canning should be held responsible for that too. This was not the time to discuss the questions growing out of the present state of things in the east of Europe; but he did not anticipate any such direful consequences to this country from them, as his hon. friend seemed to apprehend. But, let the consequences be what they may, he would tell his hon. friend, that, but for the policy of Mr. Canning, the passage of the Pruth would have been effected long since, and under cir- 709 cumstances by no means so favourable to this country as those under which it had now occurred. All the obligations of the Treaty of London were in force, and were still binding upon that monarch who had found it necessary to take this separate step to vindicate the aggressions and injuries inflicted upon his subjects. His hon. friend had alluded to the force in the Mediterranean, and had laid the expenditure and the occurrences there at the door of the late Mr. Canning. Did his hon. friend never hear that the Mediterranean had been infested by numerous pirates? That the commerce of all nations, and particularly British commerce, had suffered severe losses in consequence of their depredations? It was to put down that system of piracy that the force had been sent out to the Mediterranean, and no blame could attach to Mr. Canning or to those who concurred with him in the policy of sending out that force, if a shock had afterwards taken place, which had never been anticipated as one of the consequences of those instructions which Mr. Canning, in discharge of his duty to the country and the Crown, had prepared. The next point to which his hon. friend had adverted was one upon which it was desirable that no discussion should have been provoked. His noble friend, who had addressed the House with so much eloquence and feeling, had adverted to the delay which had taken place in bringing forward this proposition. Now, he could assert, that there did not exist in the late administration, any indisposition to consider the claims of the family of Mr. Canning; and he could positively say, that in the present administration there prevailed one unanimous concurrence in the present proposition, and that the delay which had taken place was not to be attributed to any desire on their part to defeat the object of the proposition. All personal feelings had been laid aside when this question came to be considered by them— all angry passions were for the time forgotten, and they approached the consideration of the question as public men, looking only to the circumstances which had reference to the public services of the man, and the loss which his family had sustained by his death. In this they imitated the great example of Mr. Fox, who, at a period when the finances of the country were greatly embarrassed, notwithstanding the many angry and violent encounters which had taken place between them in parlia- 710 ment, was amongst the foremost to support the bill for the payment of the debts of Mr. Pitt, and, with the characteristic virtue of great men, laid aside all recollections of the differences which had prevailed between him and his lost rival.—He felt that he had already trespassed too long on the attention of the House. He would, however, say this of Mr. Canning,—that,during the course of a long parliamentary life, he had known all the great men who, for the last twenty-five years, had served this country, and that he never knew one of them who exceeded Mr. Canning in the exclusion of every thing of self, when concerned, in the discharge of public duties. In his anxiety to discharge that duty, he was regardless of all other considerations: this desire for power arose from his love of fame; and his constant exertions, while in power, were directed to the advancement of the fame of his country. Animated with those feelings, he had lighted up that flame in the Peninsula which had blazed throughout Europe, and at last restored the peace of the continent. The same feelings influenced him in the latter part of his career— the same desire still animated his breast, to promote the good and advance the greatness of his country. The anxiety which he exhibited, and the incessant exertions which he devoted to the accomplishment of that great object, destroyed a frame which had been otherwise robust, and caused his premature decease. Too soon, alas! for his country, though not for his own fame. He last saw his lamented friend in the month of July—his health was then drooping—his strength was gone—and his frame was fast sinking to decay; but his spirit was still as young as ever, and his enthusiasm in the cause of his country knew no bounds. If he had errors, they were the errors of a great mind. He had known all the great men who, for the last half century, had directed the interests of this country, and in none of them had he seen the same devotedness of soul to the cause of the country which had been uniformly exhibited by Mr. Canning, with the exception of Nelson, and, as their feelings were similar, so their fate was the same; for both had fallen in the service of their country. If departed spirits retain the feelings which animated them in their earthly sojourn, sure he was that those kindred spirits would be still pervaded with the desire for England's fame and England's greatness. That was the all-pervading ambition which in- 711 fluenced the public conduct of Mr. Canning, and it was on that account that he called on the House to adopt the present motion. His hon. friend opposite had calculated what he reckoned Mr. Canning had cost the country, and had estimated it at 60,000l. No doubt his hon. friend had discharged what he conceived to be a public duty, in opposing this proposal; but sure he was, that the family of Mr. Canning would gladly relinquish more than 60,000l. if they could have restored to them that parent who had fallen a sacrifice to his devotion to his country.
said, that there were some points on which he should have addressed the House, had not the right hon. gentleman who had preceded him answered the hon. member for Dorsetshire on everything that had been so invidiously urged by him against the late Mr. Canning. But, though those points had been much more efficiently answered by the right hon. gentleman than he could have hoped to have done, he could nevertheless not consent to give a silent vote on this subject, as there were some matters in the course of the debate which had struck him as proper to allude to, at the same time he must dissent from an expression which had been used by a noble lord opposite, in reference to the hon. member for Aberdeen, and those who sat with him on that side of the House. The expression was one which had, no doubt, escaped from the noble lord (G. Bentinck) in the heat of debate, and which he would not have employed upon calmer reflection. He certainly was of opinion that in the present instance the hon. member for Aberdeen had acted upon a mistaken economy as to trifles, which would only lead to greater expenditure in more considerable matters: but he was sure that credit would be given to that hon. member, for his incessant exertions to curb the public expenditure. It was for this reason that he was sorry that his noble friend, in speaking of Mr. Canning, had made use of the expression that he had caused the member for Aberdeen and those who went along with him to shrink into their native and miserable insignificance. It was with the turn of the expression, and not with the substance, that he quarrelled; for certainly Mr. Canning had caused those minorities to shrink into insignificance; but how had he effected that? By the adoption of those liberal measures which that minority had for 712 years advocated, and recommended—by endeavouring to keep pace with the spirit of the age—not to go before it; and always judiciously taking care that that House should not lag behind. On this it was that he wished to build the foundation of Mr. Canning's fame; not upon great talents, which might be misapplied; not upon eloquence, which might be abused. No doubt, in the course of his long political life, he must have had a devious and difficult course to pursue; and though he might, perhaps, at times, have found it necessary to lean on one side, he had, nevertheless, steadily pursued that course which he believed would lead to his country's good. But though the man was dead, he trusted that his spirit still remained among them, and that the same liberal policy would be continued to be acted upon, which he had so happily been the means of introducing.
Mr. Stuart Wortley
said, that he should certainly vote in support of the motion; and he thought that the House, when it took into consideration the zeal and the talent which the late Mr. Canning had uniformly displayed in the cause of his country, and the line of policy upon which he had acted, would follow the course which he intended to pursue.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, he felt it his duty to offer a few observations to the House, in consequence of what had fallen from a noble lord (Althorp). The noble lord seemed to labour under the impression, that this vote had been proposed in consequence of some compromise between the members of the present administration. He could assure the noble lord that that impression was entirely erroneous. For himself he would say, that if he never had happened to have had any official connexion with the late Mr. Canning,—if he had been but a private member of that House,—he would have given his cordial vote for this proposition. The proposition appeared to him to be founded upon the broad grounds of its being perfectly consistent with policy, and reconcilable with the practice which had been adopted in reference to former ministers under similar circumstances. It was a proposition affording a reward for talent which had been devoted to the service of the country. He could not concur in the gloomy view which had been taken of the finances of the country. He did not believe that this country was so degraded as not to be 713 able to fulfil the claims of justice, and to reward the services of its public men. His right hon. friend the Secretary for the Colonies had put the question upon its proper grounds. It was not a proposition to impose a burthen of 3,000l. a year upon the country: it was a proposition in perfect accordance with the principle of that act which had given to the Crown the power of granting pensions to persons who had filled certain offices. The preamble to that act recited, that the giving such a power to the Crown "was consistent with sound policy and proper economy." The real question, then, came to this—are there not circumstances in this case so special as to make it come within the spirit of the act? And the hon. member for Dorsetshire should have remembered, that they were not speaking of the regulations necessary to be made for clerks' salaries, but of the provision to be afforded by the country to the family of a deceased prime minister—that they were speaking of one to whom, under that very act, there might have been allowed a pension, had not Mr. Canning been prevented by circumstances from enjoying it; and now all that was proposed to be done was, to transfer the income to which Mr. Canning would have been entitled, had he lived, to his family now that he was dead. That act empowered the king to grant pensions to any person who had filled certain offices for a space of time not less than two years. Mr. Canning had been a servant of the country for upwards of twenty years, and had held the office of Secretary for Foreign Affairs, which was one of the offices within the act, for at least eight or nine years. Were there, then, any fair or just grounds for resisting the proposition before the House? The whole proposition depended on the peculiar circumstances of the case, and on the possibility of the embarrassing nature of the precedent to which it might lead. But, in the case of Mr. Perceval,— a case, the circumstances of which were very peculiar,—could he forget that provision was made for the family of that individual? Could he forget, in considering this question, that provision had been made, in the case of Mr. Pitt, as well as in the case of other eminent men who had been in the public service? In the case of lord Grenville, though no provision was made by parliament, yet it was derived from another source, because means applicable to the purpose then existed 714 which this act put an end to. Other means might, at that time, be employed for the reward of meritorious services which were no longer in being. Mr. Burke, a man of great genius and talents, was rewarded. Mr. Burke did not hold official station; but still a provision had been made for that eminent man. Such a provision could not now be made; the pension system which then prevailed having been discontinued. But, if no direct mode of granting reward existed, still this country, when appealed to, would never refuse a just and honourable remuneration for great public services. It appeared to him that every gentleman might consent to this motion without in the slightest degree compromising his political opinions. In the case of Mr. Pitt all party differences were merged in a determination to pay a tribute to his memory for great talents long employed in the service of his country. At that time a distinct difference was drawn between the erection of a monument to the memory of Mr. Pitt, and the grant of a sum of money for the payment of his debts. Mr. Windham and Mr. Fox said, "We cannot vote for a public monument, without recognizing public services; but we will vote, with alacrity, for the grant of a sum of money, to enable the family of a distinguished man to pay those debts which were incurred in the service of his country." That distinction he considered to be a plain and valid one; and, if the case of a statesman were laid before them, who for twenty years had devoted great talents to the service of his country, he conceived that every member would be justified in voting a sum of money for the benefit of his family commensurate with the services which had been performed. The hon. member for Montrose had said, that the gratification of ambition in holding high situations in the state, formed of itself a sufficient reward. But why should it be so considered? When they saw individuals acquiring high honours and great emoluments at the bar and in other professions, why should they turn round to the family of a deceased minister and say to them, "The gratification of ambition was his reward. It is true he gave his services to the state, but we will not listen to your claims for reward from his country, because your parent was satisfied with the gratification of his ambition." This would be a low and nig- 715 gardly way of dealing with public men. In the case of Mr. Canning he found combined all the circumstances necessary to support this claim. Mr. Canning had for twenty years held high stations in the government,—he had brought to the service of the state most splendid talents, — and he had discarded, during his whole career, all feelings of private and personal interest. There was here arrayed, therefore, that combination of circumstances which would prevent the present from being drawn into any inconvenient precedent hereafter. Under these circumstances, he would say, as he had said before, that if he had not been connected with Mr. Canning in the public service, as he had been for a number of years, — if he had been a private member of parliament, and not a member of the government—he should have felt himself perfectly justified, without the compromise of any public principle, in heartily assenting, as he did assent, to this proposition.
§ Mr. Western
regretted that a sense of public duty would prevent him from agreeing to the motion. He did not think that the public services of Mr. Canning called for such an expression of the national gratitude.
§ Sir George Murray
said, it seemed to him, that some hon. members were desirous that the country should imitate the example of those states of antiquity who were remarkable for the ingratitude with which they had treated those illustrious men, through whose talents alone their existence had now descended to posterity. It was a satisfaction, however, to perceive that the younger members of the House were net tainted with this blameable apathy. He heartily concurred in the motion.
§ Lord Palmerston
did not consider the proposition in the light of a reward for services rendered, nor as an act of generosity; but as a measure of strict justice. He regretted that the debate should have taken so decidedly a party turn. With the life of the eminent individual, all party differences ought to have ceased; and, as to the plea of economy, the setting it up upon the occasion, was calculated to disgust the House with the very name.
§ The committee divided: For the motion 161; Against it 54. Majority 107.
|List of the Minority.|
|Althorp, lord||Knatchbull, sir E.|
|Arbuthnot, col.||Keck, Legh|
|Archdall, col.||Knight, H.|
|Bankes, H.||Lloyd, sir E.P.|
|Bankes, G.||Lushington, S.|
|Bastard, E. P.||Mankind, Viscount|
|Bright, H.||Maitland, hon. A.|
|Burrell, sir C.||Monck, J. B.|
|Burdett, sir F.||Palmer, Fyshe|
|Bell, M.||Ridley, sir M. W.|
|Brudenel, lord||Robinson, G. R.|
|Carter, J. B.||Sebright, sir T.|
|Chaplin, C.||Sibthorp, col.|
|Cholmeley, M. J.||Strutt, col.|
|Drake, T.||Tavistock, marquis of|
|Dawson, A.||Thomson, C. P.|
|Davenport, E. D.||Townshend, lord C.|
|Egerton, W.||Vivian, sir R.|
|Fane, J.||Waithman, ald.|
|Fellowes, W. H.||Warburton, Hen.|
|Ferguson, sir R||Webb, col|
|Forester, hon. J.G. W.||Western, C. C.|
|Howick, lord||Wells, J.|
|Hay, lord J.||Wilbraham, G.|
|Heathcote, G. J.||Wood, John|
|Heron, sir R.|
|Hobhouse, J. C.||TELLER.|
|Ingilby, sir W.||Joseph Hume|