§ On the motion, that the report of this bill be now received,
§ Mr. Hume
said, that, on a former occasion, he had stated the grounds upon which he objected to this grant. Since that occasion he had met with additional grounds for opposing the grant. By a discussion that had taken place on a former evening, it appeared that no less a sum than 200,000l. was at the disposal of the Crown. He had made an application to see how this sum was appropriated; with the view of finding out whether the funds granted to his majesty for the express purpose of rewarding meritorious services, might not be sufficient to defray this grant to Mr. Canning's family, instead of coming to the public purse for that purpose. His majesty's ministers had refused to tell him how the sum of 95,000l. given to his majesty for the purpose of rewarding the servants of the Crown, had been disposed of. It might be possible that it was given to the ministers of the Crown, but he did not know the fact. He did not know until the other night, that 3,000l. a year had ever been given to Mr. Canning. He was not aware of this until it was stated by the chancellor of the Exchequer. He did think, that until they were told how this fund was appropriated, they ought not to agree to the proposed grant of 3,000l. In stating this, he begged to be understood as not throwing any imputation either on the private or the public conduct of Mr. Canning; though he did not by any means approve of the whole of the public conduct of that gentleman. But the grant was spurned at, as resulting from the liberality of the House, and they were told, that it was to be considered as a mark of their approbation of Mr. Canning, as a patriot. Now, though he approved of the last acts of Mr. Canning's life, he could find no single act, until he became minister of state, with the exception of his support of the Catholic claims, which entitled him to this grant. On this ground he would move, as an amendment, "that the report be received this day three months."
§ Mr. Monck
declared, that he also must oppose the proposed grant. In the case of the earl of Chatham, that House was almost unanimous in granting a pension to his family, but in the House of Lords the proposal met with considerable 882 opposition, and a protest was entered upon the Journals, in which he perfectly concurred. He opposed the present grant on the grounds laid down in that protest. One of those grounds was public economy; and if that argument was a valid one then, it could not be less so now. The other ground was a constitutional one; namely, that in after times that act might be made use of as a precedent for granting votes for party and factious purposes. It appeared to him also, that these grants were voted on wrong ground. No services were now thought worthy of reward, unless they were performed in office and by ministers. Now, he would contend, that services quite as efficient had been performed on his side of the House. Gentlemen on his side of the House had wasted their time and talents in useless opposition to extravagant expenditure, and unjust and improper wars. They had been remarkable, too, for a magnanimous refusal of office, when a compromise of principle was required. In the precedents in favour of these grants, then, there was nothing of reciprocity. Another thing, too—public services, such as Mr. Canning was said to have performed, must always be doubtful, and it was rather the province of future historians than of that House to decide upon them. Now, he thought it; would be wise to follow the ancient course and confine reward to military and naval services [Cries of "Oh! Oh!"].
§ Sir J. Newport
said, he had sat in that House for five and twenty years, and when he assured them that for a large portion of that time, it had been his fortune to be in political hostility to Mr. Canning, he was sure they would acquit him of being actuated by any improper motive in voting as he should vote on this occasion. He did consider that the latter years of Mr. Canning's life had created so large a debt of gratitude, both from this country and from the whole of civilized Europe, that he should be wanting to himself if he did not come forward and support his vote by stating the reasons on which he gave it. He thought the country was indebted to Mr. Canning for liberating it from that system which, under the Holy Alliance, would have crushed all liberal institutions throughout Europe. He thought that the cause of liberty throughout the world was largely indebted to Mr. Canning, for the speedy recognition of the South American States. The question was, whether the 883 family of Mr. Canning should not have that support from the House of Commons which an untimely death had deprived them of. It ought never to be forgotten, that when they abolished certain great offices, it was expressly stated, that whenever a case of merit was made out, that House would never be backward in rewarding it. In conformity with that pledge, he thought that the family of Mr. Canning ought to receive that support which they would have received if Mr. Canning had lived. In his opinion, a fair case of merit had been made out; nor could he believe, that the finances of the country were in such a state as should preclude it from discharging a debt.
§ Colonel Sibthorp
supported the amendment. He was the last man, he hoped, to look upon public services with indifference; but he could not assent to such a grant, in the present state of the finances of the State. For himself, he should always be inclimed to say, "de mortuis et de absentibus nil nisi bonum" He had differed from Mr. Canning upon many points of policy, but he would not let that feeling operate, in the remotest degree, to the prejudice of his family. He was no disappointed agriculturist, as had been insinuated, but he would persevere in the course which he had chosen; and if any suggestions were thrown out, that he acted from motives of private feeling, he would fling back such an imputation with the contempt that it merited.
Mr. V. Fitzgerald
said, that the grounds upon which the vote ought to be supported, were grounds upon which he had hoped a difference of opinion scarcely could arise; and most sincerely had he been gratified by the declaration of the right hon. baronet who had recently spoken, that he would give his support to the grant, however to the man he might have been opposed. For himself, he had entertained no difference of opinion, either as to the foreign or the internal policy of the country, from Mr. Canning; and if he forbore from resting the present motion upon the merits of that policy, it was because he wished to found it upon a principle which the House could hardly fail to be unanimous in admitting. He wished to claim the vote as a meed of honour due, apart from the question of persons, to the services of an illustrious public man, whose disinterested regardlessness of all pecuniary considerations Had left his family unprovided with 884 those advantages, which a devotion les enthusiastic to the interests of his country might have secured them. It had been objected to, as if it were a grant of public money to the family of Mr. Canning. It was no such thing. It was to enable the Crown to appropriate to Mr. Canning's family a pension which the Crown had a right to grant to a public servant. So far was it from being a grant of public money, that it was a donation, on the part of the Crown, of a pension which the Crown would otherwise have a right to confer. The hon. member for Reading had said, that he wished the House would return to the wholesome practice of the constitution when pensions were granted only for naval and military services. God forbid that England—a country of free institutions—should be so degraded, that naval and military services alone should be regarded, and that important civil services should pass unrewarded. Such a doctrine might be held in places where no services were estimated but those of a military nature, but he did not expect to hear it maintained within the walls of the House of Commons. As to the fear that the present proposition might be brought in future as a precedent and example by a faction or a party. He did not conceive that any similar proposition would ever be made on party grounds. If it were, it would be easy to anticipate how it would be dealt with by parliament. The present proposition emanated from those who had long been Mr. Canning's colleagues; who were his successors; and who, although separated from him by circumstances during the latter part of his public life, were most anxious to do justice to his character, and to make that provision for his family to which they were entitled.
§ Sir James Mackintosh
spoke to the following effect:—Sir, I feel that I should be guilty of a great neglect of duty, if, not having addressed the House upon this subject on any former occasion, I were not to avail myself of this, my last opportunity, to justify the vote which I intend to give; and, in so doing, to express my dissent from some of the maxims which we have heard—maxims subversive of the whole of that system of national rewards, which forms one of the best parts of the policy of a powerful, a civilized, and above all, a free state. In so doing, Sir, I should have been exceedingly desirous to recommend a calm tone of discussion; 885 a tone calculated to appease, and not to excite, those angry feelings, which are so peculiarly unsuitable to the consideration of such a subject as that upon which we are now called upon to decide. My right hon. friend, however, who has just spoken, has too well performed that office to render it necessary for me to do any thing, except to endeavour to prevent a recurrence of any undue warmth by my own example, and by the nature of the topics to which I shall advert. Sir, the only ground on which I intend to justify my opinion on this question, and the vote which, if it be brought to a division, I shall give upon it, is, that every man in the House, whatever may have been his political differences with Mr. Canning, who believes that this country still possesses the means of shewing honour to an illustrious and departed statesman, by making a moderate provision for his family, is bound to support the present bill. That proposition comprehends the justification of the vote, which, if I am called upon to give it, I shall give more heartily than I ever gave a vote upon any question whatever.—But, Sir, I am desirous of stating a little more explicitly the general principle on which, in my apprehension, honours such as these not merely may be granted, but on which alone they can justly be granted. They can be justly granted only when they have reference to a man in honourable public employment, and of splendid and distinguished endowments, when he has filled a station high enough, and for a time long enough, to enable the public to judge of his commanding talents and of the purity of his motives. Whenever that has been the character and position of a public man, and when, after his decease, his family are in circumstances to require assistance, that assistance ought not to be withheld. All who agree in the soundness of this maxim; that is, all who agree with what has been the invariable practice of all great and civilized nations, must vote for the present proposition. For, let us consider what would be the consequence if this maxim were not received. If I am justified in objecting to any such proposition as the present, on the ground that I differed in political opinion from the individual who is the object of it, it follows, that no national honours can at any time be paid to a distinguished statesman in this country. In every country, more or 886 less, but in this country especially, where, as we all know, party is sometimes carried to a foolish excess, it is absolutely impossible that any man can pass a long public life, without supporting or opposing many measures, on which there exists the greatest difference of opinion. The nature of our constitution forbids the possibility of such an occurrence. If, therefore, an unanimous or a general concurrence in the opinions of any public man, during a period of thirty or forty years, is to be considered necessary, in order to justify a proposition such as the present, it clearly follows, that no national honour or reward can ever be conferred on any public man whatever. A victorious faction, indeed, may grant honours and rewards to its chief; but national honours and rewards can never more be conferred on meritorious public servants. It would be worse than folly to render such questions the subjects of factious contest.—Sir, no person can approach the contemplation of departed talents, genius, and virtue, without feeling that they are entitled to the reverence of every good mind. I am persuaded that such is the sentiment of every hon. member who now hears me; and that whatever warm words may have fallen from different individuals, with respect to this subject, those words are far from representing a settled and permanent feeling. We have been told by the hon. member for Reading, that he is desirous of recalling those times when national honours were paid only to the profession of arms. Sir, I should have thought that such an objection as that, had been sufficiently refuted in the first debate in this House upon the subject, by the eloquence and by the example of the hon. and gallant officer who is the commander-in-chief of his Majesty's troops in Ireland; and who is not more distinguished as an ornament of the profession to which he belongs, than he is by the manner in which he discharges his duties in this House. That hon. and gallant officer, in a manner which did him infinite credit, rejected the barbaric principle of confining national honours to the achievements of war, of war, in which it is very possible that barbarians may be able to cope with us, and declared that it would rob the rewards of valour of half their glory, if in such rewards the talents and the virtues of civil life were not allowed to participate. That hon. and gallant officer, as eminent for the qualities 887 which he has manifested in peace, as he is for his exploits in war, rejected with disdain a monopoly which he considered injurious to his own profession. But, Sir, it has been said, that if motions such as that new before us, were not acceded to, it would not thence follow, that no honours or rewards would be conferred on statesmen. True: those honours would be conferred by the Crown; those rewards would be conferred by the Crown. The means of wealth are always opened to a statesman by the Crown; and if such a bill as 'that on the table is to be rejected, he will be taught to avail himself of them. All; that the amendment proposed by the hon. member for Aberdeen can do is, not to take away the means of rewarding our; great statesmen, but to deprive both; Houses of Parliament of one of their most valuable privileges, the power of conferring rewards and honours on those, or on the families of those, whose splendid talents and virtues commanded the. admiration of the world. Shall I be told,; Sir, that because, at a former period, I differed from Mr. Canning on political subjects, that my present sentiments are inconsistent with that difference? Sir, it is enough for me that he was a man of honour, as every one knows him to have: been; that he was a man of splendid talents, as every one knows him to have; been; that he was a man whose genius exercised a powerful influence throughout Europe, and gave additional dignity I and character to this country, as every one knows that it did. By the high qualities which he manifested, he rendered his public career illustrious.—Sir, I will refer to an observation of lord Bolingbroke, made in a much more chivalrous spirit than some of the remarks which I have lately listened to in this House. Being asked his opinion of the duke of Marlborough, with whom he had long had a fierce political contest, his answer was, "he was so great a man that I have forgotten what were his faults." Something has been said of the vote of this House, after the death of lord Chatham. Lord North happened to be absent at the time when that vote was proposed. He returned to the House in a hurry; and immediately after having taken his scat, rose to express the happiness he felt in being in time to share in the honour of supporting the motion. Let any dispassionate person read that part of our history; let him read it with 888 a freedom from all prejudice, and I will then ask him, if he does not love the memory of that amiable man the more for the generous course which he pursued on that occasion? Sir, a great mistake appears to exist with respect to the vote to which I have just adverted. The hon. member for Reading enjoys the distinction of being the only man who has censured it. Since the period of its occurrence no other human creature has spoken of it in any but terms of the highest approbation. The circumstances of the case are sometimes forgot. We are apt to suppose that it was lord Chatham at the end of the seven years' war. But what is the fact? That previously to this vote, lord Chatham had for eight years been engaged in a personal and most acrimonious opposition to government; so acrimonious, that the comparatively lukewarm politicians of the present day would take fright at the language in which he occasionally indulged. If any one had said to lord North, "What! will you grant these honours to the memory of a man who has so virulently and so pertinaciously attacked you, who has charged you with folly and imbecility, who has incited his Majesty's subjects to rebellion, who has rejoiced at the resistance of America to your measures, who has prophecied the impracticability of subduing three millions of people?" Lord North might have justly answered, "I do not vote thus in consequence of these expressions, but in spite of them; I vote thus, because lord Chatham was an illustrious man, who did honour to his country; I vote thus, on the principle that if such a vote be not acceded to, we can never pay a mark of national respect to the memory of a great public man."—Sir, I will say nothing of the cases of Mr. Pitt and Mr. Perceval, except that I believe the votes in those cases were unanimous. And if the hon. member for Reading will read the protest to which he has alluded, he will find that it is not signed by those whom he would wish to quote as authorities, or hold up as examples. He will not find attached to it the names of Camden and Richmond; men who zealously employed themselves in the furtherance of the measure in question; honouring the man to whom they had nevertheless been warmly opposed. Sir, it appears to me, that the only ground on which this vote ought to rest, is that which I have described; namely, a con 889 viction, on our part, of purity of motive, of superior talents, exerted in a high situation for a time sufficiently long, to enable the public to give that sanction to the proposed honours, without which all honours are valueless. On such grounds I rest my vote. I will not say that those who vote for the bill may not have lawful auxiliary motives. Private friendship, for instance, would be a lawful auxiliary motive, although it would not be a just ground on which to rest the vote. Such a motive might sweeten the performance of that which duty would otherwise prescribe. On the other hand, personal enmity or resentment would not be a lawful auxiliary to an opposition to the motion, for our feelings may be allowed to aid us in the discharge of our duties; but ought not to be allowed to impede us. Feelings of kindness may be tolerated, even if excessive; but feelings of a contrary character ought to be closely watched, and ought never to be permitted to prevent us from rendering honours to those to whom honours are due. The more especially should that be the rule when such honours are posthumous:—"Mors obruit iras." I do not charge—God forbid that I should charge—any one with entertaining feelings of this abhorrent nature. I have merely stated that which I have stated, in illustration of what I am going further to state. I say then, that approbation of the measures of a great statesman, is a lawful auxiliary to the motives of such a vote as the present; but that disapprobation of those measures would not be a lawful auxiliary to an opposition to that vote. If it were not so, the result would be monstrous. If it were not so, we could not have had such a vote as the present for the last century. The same reasons apply to this view of the case as to that which I have just before taken. We must lay out of our account differences of political opinion, if we admit that posthumous honours of any description ought to be conferred one minent public men. Public resentment ought no more to influence us on such an occasion than private enmity. I think, therefore, that my hon. friend was quite right, who stated his approbation of one part of Mr. Canning's political conduct as auxiliary to his motives for voting for the bill; but I should not consider any hon. gentleman right who should state that his disapprobation of any part of Mr. Canning's politi 890 cal conduct was auxiliary to his motives for opposing the bill. There is no inconsistency, no incongruity in this. Our opinion is required, not on the expediency of this or that political measure, but on the value of great talents honestly exerted for the benefit of the country.—Sir, I might enter much more largely into this subject; but I will abstain from doing so. I will only allude to what a great poet has said of two Statesmen, who in their day opposed each other with the firmest determination. The state he observes—Carteret's calm mind, and Stanhope's noble fame Admir'd; and saw their generous end the same.Nor will a great poet of our own time be charged with being lukewarm in his political feelings, because, when speaking of the neighbouring graves of the two greatest statesmen of modern days, he says—Drop upon Fox's tomb a tear,'Twill trickle to his rival's bier.I mention these circumstances as proofs of the unsophisticated feeling and common sense of mankind on this subject; for to those feelings and to that sense will every great and successful poet be found to have addressed himself.—Sir, with regard to myself, I can most conscientiously declare, that if the same question had arisen in 1821, I should have given the same vote upon it that I shall give this night. That vote would have been as satisfactory to my conscience, although it might not have been so gratifying to my feelings as a public man. But I will abstain from further remarks, not only out of respect to those hon. members who differ from me on this subject, but also out of respect to the memory of Mr. Canning himself; whose name is already under the guardianship of the historian. A friendship of six and thirty years with that highly-gifted and extraordinary man, has given me, I confess, a deep interest in any measure which is intended to do honour to his memory. An humble place in his friendship was the only favour that I ever received from him; but it was the greatest that he could bestow.
§ Mr. Courtenay
said, that his sentiments on this question had been so completely anticipated by what had fallen from the right hon. and learned gentleman, that little was left to him to say; vet, when the House considered the situation in which he stood, with respect to the late Mr. Canning, he hoped they would allow him briefly to state 891 the grounds on which he should suppo this vote. He was glad that the example of his right hon. and learned friend had permitted him to use the auxiliary of private friendship on this occasion, for he was connected by ties of private friendship, and also by those of gratitude, to the deceased statesman. He could mention instances which would at once illustrate, not less the greatness of his late friend's mind than the goodness of his heart; but as many of those were personal to himself, he would not dwell on them. The question which had been raised on the ground of economy, was equally whimsical and absurd. That the country, to which thirty million of taxes had, within fifteen years, been remitted, could not now afford 3,000l. a year to reward the services of one of its ministers, was absurd, particularly when that sum was to be taken from a fund which was otherwise at the disposal of the Crown. Not less absurd, he thought, was the argument derived from the protest in the case of lord Chatham,—that such a grant would be made from party feeling. Surely this argument could not apply to the case of a pension to an individual, whose accession to power occasioned the retirement of the very party by whom the grant was now proposed. The argument of the hon. member for Reading, that we should return to the practice of our ancestors and grant pensions only for great naval and military services, was strange, to say the least of it; for, at what time was this the practice? At a period of some centuries back, when there were no civil services to be rewarded: but it was more strange at a time when the heads of some of the highest families in the country were those whose ancestors had laid the foundation of their fortunes in the rewards which had been conferred upon them for civil services. He would ask any man, whether the talents of the late Mr. Canning did not warrant his being taken up into the higher orders of the state? But, though the forms peculiar to our constitution, and to ours alone, did not permit that, consistently with the continuance of his services in that place in which they were so eminently useful, yet he thought the Crown had been most properly advised to confer those honours on his family to which he himself would have been so justly entitled had he been spared; and when that family were brought before the House by the ministers of the Crown, he thought they were 892 entitled, in virtue of the services of their late head, to that sum which had been granted for three lives in so many instances, as the reward of civil as well as military services. It was asked, whether the services of the late Mr. Canning could he compared with those of the duke of Wellington. He did not intend to make any comparison of the kind; but he thought they were equal to any of those other distinguished individuals who had been raised to the peerage, and who had obtained premiums of.2,000l. a year for three lives for military services. He would not press the subject further than to say, that if the House refused premiums on grounds such as had been urged, they would in future confine all the great offices of the state to persons of high hereditary rank; and he asked those gentlemen, the Whigs, who ascribed to themselves the peculiar guardianship of popular rights, and the possession of popular feelings, whether they would consider this to be consistent with the constitution of the country? He could say more on this subject, but he had been anticipated by what had been so well observed by his right hon. and learned friend as to the grounds of grants to public men. He could go to the circumstances of the political life of his late right hon. friend, and in the review of that life he would say, that if there was any thing in which he had been at all to blame, it was in having lent himself too much to the views of the hon. member for Dorsetshire (Mr. Bankes), who now was among those who opposed the grant to his family. But in the other acts of his right hon. friend's political career, there was nothing in the last of his career inconsistent with the first.
§ Mr. D. W. Harvey
said, he would cheerfully concur in the speech of the right hon. and learned member behind him, if he could bring his mind to believe that splendid talents, highly cultivated, were the sole guide to public reward; and the more readily should he do so, as he saw no living evidence that the precedent was likely to become extensively burthen some to the country. But, greatly as he admired the transcendent powers of Mr. Canning, and that brilliant combination of mind and beauty which marked his parliamentary efforts, yet that pleasure was, with few exceptions, greatly subdued, because he thought those talents had been directed to purposes at variance with the ends of all good governments—the freedom 893 and the happiness of the people. Recent events had combined the most opposite parties, and hence originated that singular concurrence in a grant which, under other and not very distant, circumstances, would have been very dissimilar. That factious feelings had had their influence, was manifest from the protraction of the proposal; for to what else could be attributed the delay of a measure which, if at all, ought to have been brought forward at the beginning of the session? Or had ministers been terrified into the proposal by the notice of motion recently given by a noble lord? The hon. member said, it would be as unjust to future ministers, as inapplicable on the present occasion, to say that great talents alone formed the basis of national gratitude. It was their useful direction that gave to them their charm and value; and he saw nothing in the straight-forward management of a nation's affairs, which might not be effected by an ordinary mind, aided by industry and a singleness of purpose. But if it were competent for hon. members to dwell on isolated acts, which in their judgment merited applause, and called for public compensation, it could not be less appropriate for those who differed to point out those measures of public policy which rendered Mr. Canning's conduct open to reprehension. When he traced the public conduct of many of those whom he now saw around him, and who were the supporters of this giant, he could not fail to remind them, that they had for years opposed, by the sternest and apparently with the sincerest efforts, the public course of Mr. Canning, which, in his judgment, had inflicted on the country the direst calamities. He could not forget that that distinguished individual had, on every occasion, manifested the bitterest and most uncompromising hostility to every measure which recognised the rights and liberties of the people. Never was the stream of his untameable eloquence directed more strongly than when it flowed in that course; never did man indulge in more savage and brutal derision of the corporeal infirmities of a fellow-citizen, nor mangle with more ferocious delight the charters of a nation's freedom. It was further alleged in support of this grant, that Mr. Canning displayed a magnanimous contempt of riches; but he could not reconcile this pretension with that eagerness with which he sought and seized on the 10,000l. given as the price 894 of what had been appropriately termed the "Lisbon job." But least of all could he overlook the fatal effects which had arisen from the exertions of his powerful talents, when he infatuated the strongest and proudest opposition ever formed under the auspices of the Whig aristocracy, and seduced them captive to leave the opposition benches, and, without any stipulation in favour of popular pretensions, to throw their whole weight in aid of his personal ambition; and when he had undeniably secured them, when retreat would have been as disgraceful as the advance was inglorious, then it was that Mr. Canning expounded to his Whig converts his and their political creed—that never would he support parliamentary reform, and that he was decidedly adverse to the repeal of the Test and Corporation acts. No one more admired the splendid burst of eloquence by which Mr. Canning so frequently fired and enchanted that House than he did; but at the same time, being deeply impressed with the mischievous effects which his principles, his policy, and his power, had entailed on the country, he felt it his duty, however painful, to vote against this grant.
§ Dr. Phillimore
said, he had not intended to take any part in this discussion, but after what had fallen from the hon. member who spoke last, he could not give a silent vote. He was surprised at first, why the hon. member had so construed the speech of his right hon. and learned friend as to dismiss from his consideration all the historical recollections of the life of Mr. Canning; but, as the hon. member proceeded, he saw on what ground he had dismissed them; they would not have answered his purpose, and therefore he touched only on those points which were calculated to excite angry feelings. His right hon. and learned friend's object had been to allay any such feelings, but the hon. member who last addressed the House, had, with perverse diligence, raked up every thing calculated to give a different tone and temper to the discussion. Now, he thought that the circumstance under which they were called to vote this grant was an addition to the praise of the lamented individual to whose services it referred; namely, the comparative poverty in which he had died. It was the duty of that House to take care that the families of those who had devoted themselves wholly to the public service should not suffer by 895 that devotion. It was, indeed, the best economy to encourage men of rare talents and acquirements to devote themselves wholly to the public service. The same honourable exertion in any other pursuit would have left the right hon. gentleman's family independent of any such grant; butFame is the spur, which the pure soul doth raiseTo spurn delights and live laborious days.He owned he was surprised to hear, in the British House of Commons, of any objection of the kind which he had heard that night against this grant; for there, and there only, it had been urged. If he had any objection to this grant,—it was, that it was dealt out with too niggardly a hand. It was, he conceived, a departure from the principle which had been laid down in former cases. He did not wish to make comparisons with others, but it was admitted by all, that his late right hon. friend had possessed the most eminent talents, and that they had been all devoted to the service of the country.
§ Sir G. Murray
regretted to hear the grounds of objection which had been taken to this vote. These were various and inconsistent: some were on the score of economy, that it was too much; others that it was not enough; and others, again, that it should not be granted because of former votes in other cases: but he thought those objections had been set at rest by the eloquent speech of the right hon. and learned gentleman. It was painful to think, after the long and meritorious services of Mr. Canning, there should be such opposition to a grant which was deserved on so many grounds. What must have been the feelings of the right hon. gentleman in his last moments, and what his anxiety at the destitute condition of his wife and children? But how much more painfully acute would they have been, if he could, at that moment, have anticipated such a course as had that night been taken, in opposition to the very moderate provision which had been proposed for them? Did such an opposition become the representatives of a generous nation? Did it become them to refuse this scanty pittance to the family of one who had wasted his best energies and spent his whole life in the service of the public If there was any ground for this grant, extrinsic of the great services of the late lamented statesman, it would be found in the principle, that it was wise, by a proper 896 provision in such cases, to encourage others to enlist their talents in the service of the country. He owned that, if he felt any satisfaction at seeing this vote pressed to a division, it was on the ground that the memory of the deceased would be as much honoured by some persons endeavouring to withhold it, as by the cordial vote in its favour which others would feel bound to give. His undying fame would drag their names along with it to future ages, with a degree of celebrity, that nothing in themselves could ever have conferred.
§ Mr. Liddell
said, he could not remain silent, after the manner in which the hon. member for Colchester had mentioned the name of the late Mr. Canning. The hon. member had said, that he had spoken of the Manchester massacre with savage brutality. Now, if any man would look back to the history of that time, he would find that there was no just ground for such a charge. He would admit that the right hon. gentleman had, on the occasion alluded to, made use of one indiscreet expression; and dearly had he afterwards paid for it, by the gross misrepresentations to which he had been subjected in consequence; but it would be found that the expression had not been used in the offensive sense in which it had afterwards been described, and that it was almost deserved by the individual to whom it had been applied. As to the talents of Mr. Canning, there could not be a difference of opinion; but it was not for the possession of those talents that the pension was now granted to his family, but for their entire devotion to the service of his country. Mr. Canning had filled several public offices, and he had filled them, particularly that of Secretary for Foreign Affairs, to the satisfaction of all and in a manner highly beneficial to the country. It was on these grounds that the provision was now proposed to his family. But it was said that the opinion of the people was against this grant. He should, however, be at no loss, not only to justify this vote to his constituents, but to glory in having paid the tribute of his homage to long-tried public services, private worth, and exalted genius.
said, he should, on constitutional grounds, give his cordial vote in favour of the grant.
Mr. F. P. Cust
said, he would state in a few words, the grounds on which he should give his vote. He could not but 897 admit that the late Mr. Canning had been faithless to that party by which his talents had been cradled. He must also say, that he was irregular in his ambition, and not constant in his political attachments. Of this the sudden friendship which he had conceived for those to whom he had been so long opposed, was a proof: but that sudden friendship was accompanied with a haughty and overbearing conduct towards those who were thus suddenly enlisted amongst his political supporters. At the same time, he would admit his great talents; and it would be injustice to deny that the country owed much to his powerful exertion in opposing the innovation of jacobinical principles. These circumstances gave to his family a strong claim on the liberality of parliament, and he was satisfied that if there was but a shilling left in the coffers of the country, it could not be better bestowed than on this grant.
Mr. J. Maxwell
supported the vote, on the ground of the public services of Mr. Canning, and thought that ministers were entitled to thanks for having introduced it.
said, he entertained, for the memory of the illustrious statesman, the highest possible respect, and felt bound to give to the motion his cordial support.
Sir R. Fergusson
hoped the House would not imagine that, in the vote which he should feel himself conscientiously bound to give on the present question, he was influenced by personal motives. He must oppose the motion, but that opposition was founded solely on constitutional grounds. He for many reasons, however, wished his hon. friend to withdraw his opposition for the present.
§ Mr. P. Thompson
felt himself called on to state on what grounds, if his hon. friend should divide the House, he should vote with him. Having already had an opportunity of stating the constitutional grounds of his opposition, he was inclined not to oppose the present motion, lest the opposition might appear to be of a personal character: but, after the speech of the gallant officer opposite, which was not in accordance with his usual good taste, and which threatened those who opposed the grant with the obloquy, not only of the present generation, but of posterity, he felt himself obliged to support the amendment. He thought it was incumbent on all those who opposed the grant on con- 898 stitutional grounds to show that they had acted conscientiously by voting with his hon. friend. He had heard the language of the gallant officer with surprise and astonishment; particularly when he recollected by what noble lord the opposition had first been made. It was not for him to praise that noble lord; but the language which had been applied to the minority by the gallant officer deserved no other answer than a repetition of the vote formerly given. For this reason, he should vote for the amendment of his hon. friend, if he did not withdraw it; which he would at the same time, recommend him to do.
§ Sir James Scarlett
said, he had not understood the gallant officer to impute any thing improper to those gentlemen who had voted against the measure on constitutional grounds. His urbanity recommended him as much to his friends, as his gallantry made him distinguished in the country. He had alluded, he thought, to those who, in the debate, had raked up all the topics which they could possibly collect against Mr. Canning, and which were now every where forgotten, except as they were still made the vehicles for vulgar abuse. Giving the hon. member for Colchester all possible credit for his integrity, he thought his speech was in much worse taste than that of the gallant officer. He did not mean to follow the hon. member for Colchester through all his remarks, but he would say that, the more Mr. Canning's character, public and private, was investigated, the brighter and the purer would it appear. The question had been argued on constitutional grounds, and the grant opposed as unconstitutional. Now, he thought there was nothing unconstitutional in it. The Crown had been accustomed to reward great public services in a liberal manner; but parliament had taken away the means, promising, when it did take them away, to be always ready to meet the wishes of the Crown on such a subject. Was it, therefore, unconstitutional for parliament to bestow great rewards for splendid public services? It was not: there were many instances to the contrary. The rewards bestowed on the duke of Marlborough were the subject of an act of parliament. The more modem examples of similar proceedings, had already been referred to, and he did not know on what ground the grant was unconstitutional. He understood the argument of those who said that where there 899 had been no services there ought to be no reward; but he did not understand the argument of those who admitted services, and yet said it was unconstitutional to reward them. Assuming the services, he contended, that to reward them was quite constitutional. Mr. Canning's life had been devoted to his country. If, with his great talents and commanding genius, he had pursued the profession he first intended, and had been called to the bar, he would have illustrated that profession, and have added to the fortune of his family, in a far higher degree than he could ever do in the civil service of his country. No man had ever reproached him with having been wanting in honour, or fixed a stain on his integrity. His life had been devoted and even sacrificed to his public duties. No man could doubt that his life had been shortened by his public services. And, was it right for the House to refuse its protection to that family which had been deprived of him. He concurred in the motion most heartily and cordially, and he concurred in it on constitutional grounds. If he had differed with Mr. Canning more than he did on political questions, he should have given the same vote; but of all the public men he ever knew he differed least from Mr. Canning on public principles.
§ The House divided: For the Original Motion 73; For the Amendment 14; Majority 59.